A THOUGHT-PROVOKING PRODUCTION OF CARYL CHURCHILL’S “DRUNK ENOUGH TO SAY I LOVE YOU?”
A Thought-provoking Production of Caryl Churchill’s “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?”
Theatre Rhinoceros is currently presenting an excellent production of Caryl Churchill’s political drama “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? at the Costume Shop through June 23rd.
Caryl Churchill is one of the most imaginative and perceptive dramatist of our generation and she forms a bold, smart exploration of theatrical language in “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?” The fearlessness and passion of the three actors made this a wonderful experience in political theatre. The 45 minute production summarizes the entire realm of modern American politics in the relationship between two homosexual men.
Sam (Rudy Guerrero) and Jack (Sam Cohen) are two men with a love/hate, dominant/subordinate relationship. Sam, a symbol of American political beliefs, is powerfully seductive, and Jack a polite British restrained fellow is totally intoxicated by Sam’s aggressive, controlling ways. They speak in fragmented sentences, each one finishing the other ones though. Some thoughts are finish in the way they were meant, others in way the other man hope. Proper names of people such as Alllende, Hussein, Chavez, Lumumba and countries such as Vietnam, Chile, Iran, Afghanistan, El Salvador figure prominently in their conversation with fluctuating degrees of approval and disdain as Sam’s attitude toward them changes. On paper this 45 minute allegory is about the seduction of Britain by the United States.
Rudy Guerrero plays the American super power outstandingly as a fast talking, promising charmer. He is a human dynamo with a wired manic persona. Guerrero is given to repeating phases that define what he wants to do for foreign societies, either directly or by deception from bombing to torturing and poisoning. He reminds me of a snake oil salesman who smiles while carefully stealing your wallet out of your back pocket.
Sam Cohen is very convincing at the Brit Jack. His innocence and unquestionably wonder skillfully conveyed through his facial expressions, voice and body movements. His excellent acting decisions help move the play along. Both gave human flesh to characters who could easily be figureheads for American and British politics.
Also on the bill are two 10 minute plays Churchill’s short play “Seven Jewish Children” features Sam Cohen and Kim Stephenson. “Seven Jewish Children: a Play for Gaza” was written by the playwright in response to the 2008-2009 Israel military strike on Gaza. It consist of seven scenes spread over roughly seventy years in which Jewish adults discuss what, or whether, their children should be told about certain events in recent Jewish history that the play alludes to only indirectly. The drama takes the form of a litany, repeating the phases “Tell her”, “Don’t Tell Her” to reflect an ostensible tension within Israel and the Jewish community over how to describe events in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Reaction to the play was mixed and British Jews criticized it as “horrifically anti-Israel” and “beyond the boundaries of reasonable political discourse”. This 10 minute drama was performed vividly by Sam Cohen and Kim Stephenson.
The second 10 minute drama “Seven Palestinian Children” was written in rebuttal by Deborah S. Margolin. Once again she used the Churchill’s litany of “Tell her” and “Don’t Tell Her”. Rudy Guerreo and Kim Stephenson as a Palestinian man and woman gives fine performances.
Director John Fisher decision to set “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You” in the bedroom centering on some sex between the two men was vividly accomplished. Interesting projections by Jon Wai-keung Lowe, Kent Taylor and Gilbert Johnson against a wall of the two sided seat theatre were a great asset to the production also.
This Theatre Rhinoceros production runs through June 23th at the Costume Shop. 1117 Market Street, San Francisco. For tickets can be obtained by going to www.TheRhino.org