As a famous frog once lamented: It’s not easy being green. Kermit was talking about how green skin blends into the grass and leaves on trees making it hard to stand out and be noticed. In The Little Differences ,or The Monster, playwright/director Soren Paul Budge attempts a twist on a familiar theme already explored in many plays and musicals: intolerance of those who are different.
Budge’s main character is a young man who has grown strange green tentacles from his neck and would like nothing more than to blend in to avoid the horrified stares and nasty jeers from the people around him. But, except for one young girl who does not mind his scaly tentacles, the man is outcast from society, studied by cruel scientists, and told that he is a monster, not a human.
Budge, who also stars in the production as the Zealot, clearly has a strong point of view regarding how mean and intolerant society can be towards those who are different but The Little Differences loses much of its potential effectiveness due to its confusing dialogue and unclear characters. There were so many metaphors present that I was left wondering exactly what Budge wanted the show to say.
A man (enjoyably played by Teddy Kavros) enters a grocery store to buy a box of cereal. He wears a dark fake beard in an attempt to cover up a large set of slimy tentacles protruding from his neck. He is clearly nervous and hoping no one will notice him when he meets a bubbly young girl (Emily Wolfteich), eager to offer advice about his cereal choices. He tries to brush her off but she is determined to see what is under his beard. Discovering that he has been hiding a set of green tentacles, she is initially grossed out but gets it quickly.
Meeting the girl is one of the few happy experiences the man has though out the show. He is quickly abducted by the Zealot (Budge), the Master Educator (Robert Boyd) and scientist/everyone else (Bryan Glaize). They decide to conduct various experiments on him in order to determine if he is a man or a monster. Will they kill him if they decide that he is a monster? Or does he get to live?
Wolfteich is a breath of fresh air every time she is on stage. She delivers Budge’s tricky dialogue effortlessly and is the source of many laughs. Kavros also delivers a solid performance as the bumbling, nervous man/monster. Budge, Boyd and Glaize are convincing in their roles as narrow-minded individuals who feed off each others’ distrust and revulsion for people who are different in any way.
Budge is clearly a deep thinker with a knack for writing interesting, though complex, dialogue for his zany characters. The Little Differences has a good message about tolerance and understanding but overall the dialogue and unclear purpose of the characters detracted from the overall point Budge seemed to want to convey.
The Little Differences or The Monster has 4 more performances at The Redrum – Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.
Sabrina rates this 3 out of 5
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