Monday, November 17, 2008

The Most Damaging Wound

I had a chance to see the Production Company's excellent production of Blair Singer's play about male bonding and the compromises of growing up, The Most Damaging Wound, on Saturday afternoon and I'm quite glad I did.

In The Most Damaging Wound, a group of old college friends now in their 30s have a reunion where they drink, reminisce, drink, to ceremoniously burn a bunch of college memorabilia, and drink.

Kenny, the organizer of this reunion, has just become a father and wants to enjoy one last irresponsible drunken hurrah before committing (with trepidation) to fatherhood. His best friend Alan has been married for several years and works as a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company (Booooo!) and may not win Husband of the Year. Dicky is their drunken pal, a Boston townie who’s all about getting blitzed and having fun. Bo, a musician, is in attendance, but also reminds them of the realities of growing up by being in A.A. GG is their uptight friend who hosts the reunion in his under-construction restaurant.

And then there’s"business friend" of Alan’s, Christine, who shows up.

Fueled by booze and that previously-mentioned unexpected female guest, they all learn things about themselves and each other that they may not have wanted to learn. But hey, even by one character's admission, these college reunions never turn out well, so why should they (or we) act surprised?

Although it could be argued that this is just a male version of Sex and the City, it's too well-made, too emotionally honest, too realistic and too effective to be dismissed as just a "chick flick for dudes" for the stage.

The show I was most reminded of with The Most Damaging Wound was Matthew Puzzo's The Dirty Talk. Although the stories of the two shows couldn't be more different (aside from the fact that both deal with the facade of machismo to some degree), both plays are excellent examples of good storytelling and good character development, throwing you right into the thick of things then slowly and steadily filling you in on the characters' back-stories.

In addition to the script being funny, sweet and engaging from beginning to end, Mark Armstrong's direction is smart and tight and everyone in the cast — Michael Szeles, Ken Matthews, Michael Solomon, Chris Thorn, Bard Goodrich and Megan McQuillan — is great: Armstrong & Co. are smart enough to not let Singer's characters become macho caricatures or sappy goofballs.

And like with The Dirty Talk, I almost don't want to say too much about The Most Damaging Wound and let you see the play unfold with as few expectations as possible. If you get a chance, go check it out.

The Most Damaging Wound is playing at Manhattan Theatre Source on 177 MacDougal Street until November 29. For tickets go here.

Getting frisky with his dude friends,

James "Creepy Tagalong" Comtois

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Blogger MattJ said...

One of the best shows, if not THE best show I've seen this year. Extremely fun, with a huge heart. Get out there and see it!

10:30 AM  

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