The House of Blue Leaves
Reviewed by David Kashimba

Even a great cast can’t salvage John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves. The problem lies in the characters and story line. Though Pacific Alliance Stage Company put a lot of energy and fine talent into this production; the main difficulty is that most of the characters in this play are totally unsympathetic.

Artie Shaughnessy (Patrick Flick) is a zookeeper at the Central Park Zoo in New York. But Artie sees this as only a day job. Though middle aged he still aspires to be a great songwriter. But some of his best love songs resemble well-known Christmas music. Instead of accepting his aspirations as delusional at best, he blames his failure on his wife Bananas (Jennifer Weil), and constantly threatens to put her in an insane asylum.

Bananas, the only real sympathetic character in the entire play, seems to stand by Artie no matter how badly he treats her, and he really treats her badly, including flaunting his new mistress, Bunny Flingus (Claudia Rosa), in front of her. Artie and Bunny are two very selfish people with no socially redeeming value.

Guare is a very respected playwright winning the 1990 New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Hull-Warriner Award and the Obie Award as Best Play for Six Degrees of Separation. Fans of his work may be interested in seeing The House of Blue Leaves. It aspires to be a dark comedy and pokes fun at Hollywood, the Catholic Church, fame and the American concept of success. The author has described his drama as “… a play about limits; people limited by a lack of talent, limited economically, limited emotionally, limited geographically.” It was first produced in New York in 1971. Perhaps during those troubled times, when our country was rebelling against everything, audiences found some release in it’s dark humor. But to a 2002 audience it just seems like a clichéd drama about a lot of lost souls who just can’t get their act together. One of the best theatres in the Bay Area, Pacific Alliance Stage Company in Rohnert Park simply made a bad choice with this production.

For tickets or more information about future productions call (707) 588-3400.

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