Company: Viable Theater Company
Venue: The Charnel House
Die Roll: 8
Vincent Truman’s “Featherstone” is a delightful and bawdy production that layers wit upon cheese with such joy, that you almost forget the show’s most worrisome drawback: a one man production team. So, take heart and collect your ticket stub, the show is a winning work in spite of itself.
The problem is simple; no phrase instills quite as much dread when the house lights go down for performance as the ominous “written, directed, produced by and starring”. It’s so rare to encounter the talented dynamo assuming all roles and knocking them out of the park, Orson Welles style. Instead we brace for what is much more likely to be Tommy Wiseau of ‘The Room’ fame, wishing everyone and everything a fond ‘Oh, hi’. Truman and “Featherstone” charm their way to a middle ground that is witty without being too ‘high art’ and low-brow without skimming too close to the crude reserves.
An on-the-rocks married couple (Adrienne Gunn and Steve Carter Ruppel) reluctantly seek counseling from the outwardly dismissive, hostile and inexplicably British Dr. Featherstone (Vincent Truman). Why British? Why not? It could be a nod to the storied UK tradition of abrasive but secretly nurturing mentors, like Mary Poppins and Gordon Ramsey. In that fashion, Featherstone provides a stealthy rescue from each of the pitfalls his clients face and sweeps his small practice’s looming power outage and eviction under the rug for another day. He even charms his dutiful receptionist son (Philip DeVone) as he saddles the lad with the dirty work of maintaining his crumbling business.
That said, this production hinges on how much you enjoy Truman in all of his forms (excepting Sunday performances when a cast of understudies take the stage). As a writer he has bite and a solid arc, as a performer he gnaws contentedly on the drywall, and as a director he steps back, showcasing a solid script and performers. There’s value in having extra eyes on your project, however, and that’s evident as “Featherstone” unfolds. Little indulgences like dance interludes and wink-nudge nods to the audience may have garnered some rehearsal chuckles but could now stand to face the editors’ red pen.
“Featherstone” works just fine in a theatrical vacuum, and all the science checks out; it’s time to submit this show to some clinical trials to see if the science holds up.
TEN WORD SUMMARY: For better or worse, the doctor will see you now.
RATING: d8- “Not Bad, Not Great”