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posted Friday, February 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 8

Look, Ma, new hands
A Behanding in Spokane is almost too weird for words

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE
THEATER SCHMEATER
Through February 23


In a nasty/funny little play by a playwright who loves to create nasty/funny little plays, A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh, you first must accept that in his world, lots of people lose their hands - and also keep cut-off hands around somewhere. Why? This Carmichael guy, a supremely dangerous asshole, has been looking for his missing hand for 27 years.

McDonagh is a British playwright of note. He takes joy in the nexus of danger and humor, but most of his writing is about British characters. For some reason, this play is supposedly set near Spokane. But the play really has little 'local' flavor and could have been set anywhere. What is unique is the idea that hands that have been severed from bodies still exist, and that someone could place an ad on a Craigslist-type website and a couple of stupid weed dealers could decide they'd give him a hand and get paid $500.

If you find that idea amusing, this play is probably right up your alley. In addition to those three characters, the play is set in a seedy motel with a strange front-desk clerk who gets curious when he hears a gunshot at the start of the play.

This odd little morsel is handily directed by Peggy Gannon, who clearly loves its twisted sense of humor. Carmichael is well-played by Gordon Carpenter, an actor who commonly plays tough guys and knows how to convey a sense of suppressed anger.

Corey Spruill and Hannah Mootz play the hapless dope peddlers who thought they'd earn a fast buck by handing over a random hand they stole from a local museum. They're supposed to be a 'couple' but have zero chemistry. Still, in this play it doesn't matter. They play stupid pretty well.

Brandon Ryan gets the most intriguing role of the nosy desk clerk. For reasons of his own, he likes to provoke, even if it might get him killed. This role is the most fun and contributes the most laughs. Ryan has portrayed a number of odd characters on stage, so he's also familiar with what it takes to make them sing.

Michael Mowery creates a reasonably realistic rundown motel room. Al Angel supplies solid support in sound design along with Maggie Lee's light design. Every audience member will likely find different parts of the show to laugh at - I found the final moment the most delightfully absurd. For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/275821, or call 1-800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.



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