David Rabe’s sprawling epic of Hollywood sleaze is as undisciplined as its central characters, a set of actors and casting agents who interrupt their misogynistic diatribes only long enough to vacuum up Tony Montana-sized quantities of coke. Sure, there’s supposed to be a message about spiritual emptiness and the ravages of materialism in there, but the real appeal of “Hurlyburly” lies in the space it gives its actors to behave badly. The Gift Theatre Company has established a track record of strong ensemble work, and director Michael Patrick Thornton skillfully manages a fluid and subtle cast in this production. Brendan Donaldson, in particular, has met a role made for him in Mickey. Donaldson conceals Mickey’s ferociously intelligent detachment behind a ubiquitous condescending smile and an air of distracted bemusement; the scene in which he convinces girlfriend Darlene (Lynda Newton) to drop him for roommate Eddie (Paul D’Addario) is a small masterpiece of Machiavellian manipulation. As Eddie, D’Addario has to contend with Rabe’s damaging turn toward the sentimental in the play’s final hour, but his physically arresting performance provides a solid anchor throughout. “Hurlyburly” is forty-five minutes or so too long, and it doesn’t have the nerve to follow through on its Dantesque vision of L. A., but this intimate production harnesses the dark energy of Rabe’s script. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.