Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Streamers" presented by Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre, November 15, 2008

Set in an army barrack during 1965, three roommates, Richie (Hale Appleman), Billy (Brad Fleischer) and Carlyle (Ato Essandoh) navigate the politics of race and sex. Richie's crush on Billy is either his running joke, or one to disguise the truth of it. Carlyle, the African American with two white roommates is just trying to keep his head down and survive. Billy wants everyone to get along and act "normal."

Roger (JD Williams) shows up, fresh from basic training, looking for a fellow "brother" to connect with in the white man's army of the Vietnam era. He's a loose cannon, foretelling from where the trouble will arise.

Sgt. Rooney (John Sharian) and Sgt. Cokes (Larry Clarke) are tossed in as a tension source, but end up as little more than comic relief until the brutal events of Act II.

David Rabe's play falls victim at times to the period in which it was written, but there are some themes (though clumsily explored) that still ring true regarding class and sexual identity. Mr. Appleman gets the most to work with here and gives a fine performance. Messrs Fleischer and Essandoh are almost as good, pulling what they can from the script. Mr. Williams has flashes of brilliance, but remains inconsistent.

Scott Ellis does well to keep the pace moving and has elicited strong and moving performances from his company. Rick Sordelet should be commended for the fight choreography. It's better than much of what I've seen of late.

Neil Patel's set holds up well to the abuse of the action, complemented by Jeff Croiter's lights. Tom Broecker's costumes are appropriate, but someone should tell Sgt. Rooney that his belt is to be worn brass-on-brass, not flopping around like a curtain tassel. A true sergeant would know that, regardless of his flaws or shortcomings.

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