January 28, 2014




by Bruce Norris 

O.K. here's the deal. "The Pain" may seem like a pain -- but the Technique draws dramatic tension. However this well constructed dysfunctional family is the most laughter you will find anywhere. 

Sure - there is anger. Lots of it. The way I see it - is that all of the actors in this play will all be big stars. Everyone will be talking about them. Everyone I talk too tell me about the impact it has on "The Pain". And that impact is like a Tornado. 

What we find is that this is a middle class couple goes to any lengths to keep the house in a blissful way. But things do not go on like you were ready to play house. To the contrary -- the house is about to explode. I can't imagine finding a theater group who would take this shouting self-hating gang. 

Yeh - they may all be related in this way or that -- but this angry family is headed for hell. They all seem to hate each other, and they bring out more anger motivation. 

The only one in the family (Mr. Hadid) - Dorian Lockett sits out most of the play until the end. It's a strong ending. In between though there is plenty of hysterical, funny vicious drama. 

I loved the play. I laughed at the concept and really enjoyed it. I mean that I really, really laughed hard. It's a High Energy Concept - and I think you will enjoy this funny hilarious evening. Many people at the show were bent over with constant laughter. 



Into the woods is where we go. There is Johnny "Rooster" (Brian Dykstra), a local feisty wanted man. The cops want to serve him an eviction notice. That doesn't seem to bother Johnny, the opinionated eccentric teller of improbable stories - puts on Grand and drunk parties anyway. Johnny gets a big supply of drugs that obviously blow his little camp away. 

The Air is full of cigarette smoke (Pot). They roll around the garbage in the middle of a pleasant area, but don't breath the air. His motley crew hangs around the great trees. And there is a whimsical elderly professor (Richard Lewis James) that spouts philosophical nonsense. He is the funniest guy on the stage, and James is Glorious Fun. First Rate!  

There is a young teen, who has been hiding in a sofa bed. Very clever. Who would have thought that someone could hide in a sofa bed with people sitting on top of you. Well, it sure is not part of "The Royal Court". It scared the hell out of me. Don't get frightened by the ribald insane people on the stage. The ribald humour never stops. And that is somewhat of a problem. It goes on just a little bit too much in this defiant man that thinks he is King of the Jungle. Well, in the end -- his snickers get pulled right off of his butt. 

Jerusalem (the Play) by jez Butterworth opened at the downstairs theatre of the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2009. It's run was extended, and from there it dragged its motley crew to other Theatres around the world. 

'Rooster' is the daredevil and tells his bunch of drunken young people of all the great things he has done. He's a modern day Pied Piper that just can't wait for someone to kick his butt around. He has a young son. Rooster hardly ever see's him except at a Carnival. His dad gives him a couple of gifts and off the kid goes on. 

Yes Sir - the preacher of the play is a drug dealing alcoholic who thinks of himself as a noble hero. His so called love of his estranged son, provides a refuge for abused teens. 

Unfortunately the overwhelming unpleasantness quickly alienates the audience. Getting water on people in the first row was not funny. Maybe it was a mistake. 

There is much to talk about this play in the woods. Sure -- it has Englands charms in many ways -- But England is not so green and not so 'pleasant land'. 

The Show is way to excessive. Three Acts sort of wear people out. As they might say in England - "It's not my cup of tea." However, some (especially) hippies will find it to be divine. 

Around the world there has been rave reviews - in many other countries. 

THE SUPERB ACTORS ARE: Julia Belanoff, Ian DeVaynes*, Joe Eslack, Richard Louis James, Calum John, Riley Krull, Maggie Mason, Ian Scott McGregor*, Aaron Murphy, Paris Hunter Paul*, Christopher Reber*, Joshua Schell, Devon Simpson, and Courtney Walsh.  As far as the Actors go -- They have all hit high careers - nothing quite like it!

BY:  Jez Butterworth
Directed By: Bill English 
(still the master of his craft) 

RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!!***(stars) 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED RADIO - 7  years)))

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