- By Keith Bridges
- Directed by Joe Banno
- Produced by Charter Theatre
- Reviewed by Steven McKnight
At the start of F.U. (Forgive Us…what’d you think we meant?), the actors break the “fourth wall” between cast and audience with a lengthy yet funny digression about the upcoming show. They state that they can’t tell the message of the play, but must show it to the audience. Eighty minutes later we learn there’s not much of a point to the new Charter Theatre production other than the presentation of some mildly entertaining silliness.
If you are having trouble counting your blessings, be grateful that you are not Karl (Michael Skinner), the protagonist of F.U. Karl hates his life with good reason. He has an unsatisfying job and a cheating wife. He is abused at the office and at home, and is described as a loser, a jellyfish, and a sad little man.
In a series of short scenes that play more like connected skits, we see Karl comes to terms with the depths of his problems. He is assisted in his journey by his best friend Clint and a private detective (both played by an entertaining Ray Ficca) as he confronts his primary problem, his bored and unfaithful wife (Allyson Currin). Another member of the lively multi-role playing cast is a charming Sarah Melinda.
F.U., an original work by Charter Theatre’s Artistic Director Keith Bridges, is described as a “ridiculous, offensive, dark comedy.” At times one wishes it was more offensive and dark. While the high energy approach used by Director Joe Banno maximizes the entertainment value of the scenes, it also makes it hard to become seriously invested in the characters or the story.
Although there are amusing moments throughout the evening, perhaps the biggest structural problem is that all of the action revolves around a static leading character. Karl is such a consistently frantic, worried, and unhappy man that it makes it increasingly difficult for his outbursts and rants to register with enough comic impact (although one of his funnier moments involves his reaction to seeing the incriminating sexual photographs of his wife). In both dramatic and comedic ways, Karl isn’t given enough room to move and the audience feels that resulting sense of claustrophobia.
As a result, most of the humor comes from the way other characters bounce off Karl and the short between-scene interludes. Even as the action plows through familiar yet fertile comic ground (problems in the office, potential new romantic liaisons, dinner with Mother, a meeting in a strip bar, the potential use of violence), by the end of the evening we are not overly disappointed to leave Karl and his world.
There’s some decent comic material found in F.U. It has sharp supporting performances, occasionally clever dialogue, and smart use of costumes and props. Overall, though, its best moments tend to remind one more of vaudeville than a cohesive piece of comedic theatre.
- Running Time: 1:20 (no intermission)
- When: Now thru Feb. 2, 2008. Thurs – Sat nights at 8 pm, Sunday matinees at 3 pm
- Tickets: $20-$25
- Contact Info: Call (202) 333-7009 or consult the website.