A seedy motel room, a bag full of beer and narcotics, and unresolved sexual abuse from a decade prior; no, I’m not referring to how some of us might have spent our weekends (thanks Knight’s Inn in Rockville!), but rather Alchemy Art Project’s production of Tape, masterfully directed by Marshall B. Garrett.
Tape follows the story of Vince (Brendan Sokler,) and Jon (Tyler Harman,) two high school friends who reconnect under the auspice of Jon’s film premiering at a film festival—in the interim time since high school, Jon has become a documentary filmmaker focused on the future fecundity of humanity, while Vince has become a pot-dealing volunteer fireman who has remained obsessed with the rape of his ex-girlfriend Jon may or may not have committed years earlier.
This is a well-acted, well-directed, and well-executed production of a stellar play. First produced as part of the Humana Festival in 2000, Stephen Belber’s play is a compelling and invigorating examination of human memory, relationships, and the shifting perspectives that help to create these two very things. The play is sharp, witty, and effortlessly skirts from the comical to the über-serious in the time it takes for other playwrights to find the spacebar on their keyboards—and in the very capable hands of the Alchemy Art Project, it’s a production well worth seeing.
Sokler’s portrayal of the binge drinking, semi-violent but irascibly incorrigible Vince is a highlight of the show. In a play as tight as this (most of the dialogue between Jon and Vince is clipped, monosyllabic, and is shadowed in the familiar back-and-forth that’s present in conversation between old friends), Sokler’s high energy and presence pushes the show forward at moments where, if left to the hands of a lesser actor, it could have stalled.
Harman and Carly Stocking (who portrays the victim cum assistant district attorney Amy) both shine in their respective roles, and it is only through the combined prowess and efforts of this trio that Tape sizzles with the vivaciousness that it does.
Perhaps my only major qualm with this production was some questionable sound design towards the end—I’m as tongue-in-cheek as the next guy, but I’m sorry, I don’t think that “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga is the best choice to underscore the final monologue of a woman who may or may not have been raped. Let’s keep Lady Gaga classy, here folks. She deserves better than that.
by Stephen Belber
Directed by Marshall B. Garrett
Produced by Ti’Shamay Dawn
Reviewed by Anna Brungardt
Running time: 70 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?