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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 19
Suspending disbelief worth it for Fabulous Prizes
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Suspending disbelief worth it for Fabulous Prizes

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Fabulous Prizes
Satori Group
Through May 30


Satori Group is among a handful of small ensemble theater companies consumed by theatricality. They both develop their own collective work and produce new, often unusual and edgy plays scripted by others.

They just opened Fabulous Prizes by Neil Ferron, a local playwright who worked with them for the better part of a year on this play.

While the play has an awkward beginning (even for a nontraditional play), its ultimate message is definitely confrontative. It appears to take the subject of lies we tell ourselves to an ultimate conclusion.

Restaurateur Julius has told himself for years that he has been cheated out of a world-class review, which would have 'made' his career and restaurant. He's been waiting for 28 years for a letter of apology from the reviewer. The implication is that, once received, the letter would help his restaurant rise from failure to stand among the best in the world.

While he told himself that, he also walled himself into a small basement apartment with a baby, Arthur, who has been groomed for these 28 years to take his place. This is the ultimate and absurd conclusion. There is no way to make this situation a believable reality, so audiences must immediately suspend their sense of disbelief to accept the environment of the play. Julius and Arthur have no visible means of support and appear to have food brought to them by their apartment manager.

The fantasy they immerse themselves in is so complete that Arthur is made to wear dresses and pretend to be his mother, even going so far as to kiss his father during gut-turning incestuous and disturbing moments. You have to wonder whether Arthur thinks this is somehow normal human interaction.

Julius figures out how to manipulate the apartment manager by discovering the shy, schlubby guy desires a girl, Sally, whom he spies on from his bathroom window every day. Julius lies about having a connection to her.

Anthony Darnell excels at playing schlubby guys who aspire to be more than they are, having performed in a similar role in Satori's production of Winky. His nervous, heartbreaking desire to please is pitch-perfect. Nathan Sorseth lords over his son, played with a shifty-eyed insanity by Quinn Franzen. Franzen holds the evening together through sheer watchability and commitment to each moment, no matter how extreme the action. Adrienne Clark does what she can as a kidnapped Sally, improbably kept bound in a closet, though her role is ultimately unnecessary in this play.

In the interest of talking about how our inner stories dominate us, reality goes by the wayside and people are boiled down to less than fully human characters in this script. But the attempt to reveal a dark lining is worth pursuing. Ferron has been graced with the intense interactions of director Caitlin Sullivan and the rest of the Satori ensemble, giving him a great leg up in presenting his material.

For more information, go to www.satori-group.com or www.brownpapertickets.com, or call 800-838-3006. Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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