Despite a title that evokes a wildly imaginative hybrid, Two Gentlemen of Lebowski is essentially a scene-for-scene recreation of The Big Lebowski, only retold in Shakespearean English. Die-hard Lebowski fans will be in stitches, as were those in the audience when this reviewer attended, but everyone else will be surprised by how quickly the gimmick gets old, especially when the movieâ€™s least entertaining scenes are painfully reenacted line-by-line.
The challenges of adapting the movie are obvious, but the most disappointing part of the play is that this was not seriously attempted. The audience is expected to be entertained almost exclusively by hearing how familiar lines are reconstructed according to the playâ€™s premise. In all fairness, the â€œtranslationsâ€ are often clever and funny and, because of this, the play has its moments. However, these are essentially the same as the movieâ€™s, only less so. Two Gentlemen of Lebowski feels like a performance by a good tribute band; at its best itâ€™s good enough to approximate the original, but even then, you are aware of just how much better the real thing is.
The play is generally well acted and the Lebowski character is particularly strong. Walter is faithfully and convincingly played, but while that psychotic character is entertaining from the safe distance of a movie theater or television screen, in the closeness of a small theater he often just feels like an angry guy yelling in your face.
Two Gentlemen of Lebowski runs until April 4 at The Kraine Theater. For more information go HERE.