News Column

Good or bad, Kinetic Theatre hopes to move you

July 17, 2014

By Alice T. Carter, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

July 17--Producing artistic director Andrew Paul is back in town with yet another new theater company and a David Mamet play that's likely to offend almost everybody.

Last year, Paul parted company from Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, which he co-founded in 1996 and served as the company's producing artistic director.

Paul and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre founder and producing artistic director Mark Clayton Southers then created Phoenix Theatre. But after co-producing "Blue/Orange" last fall, the co-founders decided that their producing styles did not mesh.

Paul's latest venture, Kinetic Theatre Company, will have its debut with Mamet's "Romance," which he is directing at the Alloy Studios in Friendship.

Paul and his board talked about other names before settling on Kinetic.

"It's a better name. There is no other Kinetic Theatre in the U.S. and it's more dynamic. ... Kinetic means 'of or pertaining to motion,' " Paul says. "Motion always spreads to emotion. Good theater moves people in unexpected ways."

There's motion and emotion aplenty in "Romance," a farcical, outrageous, politically incorrect courtroom comedy that leaves no slur or profanity unspoken.

A Jewish chiropractor has retained an anti-Semitic defense attorney to defend him against some vaguely defined, but potentially embarrassing, charge. The prosecutor is having a domestic squabble with his male lover that spreads into the courtroom. The judge is drowsy and addled from overdosing on allergy pills and everyone's life is disrupted by the security procedures protecting a high-level Middle East peace conference that's taking place nearby.

"It's a farcical, absurdist kitchen-sink drama of four alpha males going at each other," says Paul, who describes it as Mamet meets the Marx Brothers. "The characters are paper-thin. It has one foot in drama and the other in a bizarre political world."

Patrick Jordan, the founder and artistic director of Pittsburgh'sBarebones Productions, has been cast as the Jewish chiropractor and defendant. David Whalen plays his conservative Christian, anti-Semitic defense attorney.

Kevin Brown is the court's bailiff, Mark Ulrich is the prosecutor, John Reilly is the Doctor and Andrew Swackhamer plays the prosecutor's live-in lover, Bernard.

Matt DeCaro is the judge, the role he played in the Chicago premiere of the play at the Goodman Theatre.

Paul believes Mamet's overriding message is that we are unlikely to be able to solve the problems in the Middle East if we can't even solve the problems in our own lives and homes. Populating his play with men and no women is Mamet's way of saying that when men are left to their own devices, the result is nothing but ego-driven behavior and chaos, Paul says.

The play got mixed reviews when it first played in New York City in 2005 and it seldom has been done since.

Paul thinks the play's politically incorrect dialogue and profanity made already-economically struggling small theater companies reluctant to stage it. But those are exactly the reasons it appealed to Paul.

"Small theaters doing cutting-edge works is what we should be doing. It cries out to be produced," he says. "It's a 90-minute, no-intermission play and it's fast. If we do our job right, people will laugh and laugh and then do the head-scratching about what it's saying."

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.


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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

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