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Monday, January 21, 2013

Clive-First Saturday Matinee 1-19-2013

Photo by Blanca Acevedo Be warned-this review contains some major spoilers!
Photo by Blanca Acevedo I saw the first matinee of Clive today at the Acorn Theater on West 42nd Street, just blocks from Times Square. In this fast-moving and most unusual play, Vincent dominates the stage, overshadowing the other actors, including Ethan Hawke, who plays the lead role of Clive. The play begins with Vincent's character, Doc, appearing from behind a red door, centerstage, then reaching from behind the door to tap out notes on a xylophone built into the door as he announces "Satan is real." All the seven doors onstage were designed as unique sound sculptures by Gaines with musical instruments and song lyrics built into the design. These scuptures will produce sounds unique to each performance of Clive, thereby creating an original musical score each night. The guitars used by Clive and Doc and the piano onstage all have various lines written on the surfaces. The set is beautifully designed with walls made of silvery beer cases with brand names like Durst and beer cans framed by a curtain made of the tops of beer cans. It's quite a feast for the eyes!
Lobby of the Acorn Theater-photo by Blanca Acevedo Ethan soon appears and announces the beginning of the play, and also reveals that he will play the role of Clive because "I'm dead." Indeed, we are led through various outrageous and sometimes tawdry vignettes in the life of Clive and his buddies, bimbos and best friend Doc, leading up to Clive's tragic end in a rather strange circumstance. Let's just say it involves ice fishing. "A rat lies in the gutter what?" Ethan brings the rock star swagger to his role of Clive, brandishing his guitar for several musical numbers and even reciting lines written on the guitar, admonishing Joanne, his friend's teenaged girlfriend, to "clean up and go home" after a night of debauchery, punctuating his insult with the boast "I fucked you well." In the first of several tragedies that haunt Clive, Joanne drowns herself after losing her virginity to him and suffering his rejection. But Clive just can't help himself, and soon impregnates and abandons Sophia, who's adored by a devoted Doc, but loves Clive.
Photo by Blanca Acevedo Doc is a striking figure onstage, dressed in country western garb and howling at the audience at times, even barking like a bulldog at Clive's behest, but Doc is no court jester. Vincent brings his own larger than life swagger to the role of Doc, who's boisterous and charming with a pronounced southern drawl and thirst for booze, babes and blow to match his towering frame. Doc and Clive share an unexpectedly homoerotic moment as both are seated on the stage and Clive jumps onto Doc's lap. As they embrace, I could swear they were about to kiss, but they do not. Hot damn! Zoe Kazan, who was hilarious in "A Behanding in Spokane" with Christopher Walken, Anthony Mackie and Sam Rockwell in 2010, plays Joanne the blond, Sophia the brunette and the nameless redhead who falls for Doc, only to be ravished by Clive in the bushes after Doc's boast that she "fucked me like a squirrel fucks another squirrel." ??? Imagine how funny that line sounds when spoken by George Geronimo Gerkie, sans the wig and hat, and you'll get a sense of the strange humor that permeates Clive. Speaking of the little red-haired girl, she gets a few playful spanks on the butt from Doc, who's all hands with her in their brief time together onstage. Charlie Brown never had it so good! As for nudity, Doc's bald head and Clive's shirtless staggering about the stage will have to suffice. Sorry, Vixens.:(
Photo by Blanca Acevedo Aside from Vincent and Ethan, the rest of the cast play multiple roles throughout the 1 1/2 hour production, from pals of Clive to junkies, prostitutes to priests, and a group of fishermen who taunt a dying Clive while snorting drugs from his prone body. Music is performed by the actors in fragmented segments throughout the play, so I wouldn't call this a concert or musical. Vincent and Ethan perform a country-flavored duet with their twin guitars, but they chant the words rather than actually sing them. Clive also performs by a piano decorated with lines such as "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes...." and "Mama tried." Shades of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat here and on the guitars, as well. Clive's guitar sports various lines of dialogue and the legend "Be Nice To Me Sweetheart This is My Room" and the name "Elephant." Doc's guitar is named "Elephant My Ass" and bears a legend around the body of his guitar similar to Clive's.
Photo by Blanca Acevedo Major Spoiler!!!! Don't read this if you don't want to know what happens to Doc near the end of the play. Otherwise, read on..... As we know by now, Vincent has played many villains and anti-heroes on screen and on TV, and they usually die onscreen. Well, sorry to say that Doc meets his end after a bitterly drunken fight with Clive, sparked by jealousy and resentment over past wrongs (remember Doc's redheaded girlfriend?) Doc, who once snorted dope with Clive off their guitars, explodes with rage, demanding to know "Are you the only girlfriend I'm allowed to have?" A barroom brawl turns deadly as Clive, switchblade in hand, turns Doc into a ghost bathed in red light. Doc later appears with angel's wings, one wing bearing the words "Doc is dead" and the other "RIP." Clive's downfall is a foregone conclusion-"A rat lies in the gutter what?" Sex, drugs, rock and roll, larceny, rape, murder, etc........Are people nothing but hedonistic animals? Is love even possible in such a godless world? Who cares? I think Doc would have, definitely.
Photos courtesy of The New Group website