THEATER REVIEW: 'Rambis'


    In the 1977 motion picture "Fun with Dick and Jane," Jane Fonda surprised audiences by talking with her husband in a bathroom and then sitting on a toilet and doing her business. That seems lame compared to Insurgo Theater playwright Ernie Curcio's contributions to the arts. This time a visiting woman tries to make the choice between a broken indoor bathroom and a gas station toilet down the street. She chooses the living room. Her actions are, thankfully, hidden by a couch, but there's much talk of the smell and whether it's a turn-on for the older man in the room.
    That's Curcio for you. He'll do anything, as a director and playwright, to surprise an audience. That's not necessarily a bad thing. When he's on target, he's provocative, and when he's straining, he comes across as self-indulgent.
    Curcio establishes a smooth, logical opener, with a son (the ready-for-anything Brandon Jones) coming to a run-down Vegas motel to whisk his dying father (the touchingly weary Tony Foresta) to Mexico. Neither man is a saint, but Curcio and the actors establish quick bonds that make us want to get to know them better.
I think the playwright makes a major mistake in introducing a third character, Zig, whose job seems to be to say off-the-wall things to bring the emotionally dead to life. Sample: "I just farted." "You ever seen an aborted fetus? Ö I have one in my purse." Earlier, a character complains that a player's moustache was just "an accumulation of dried snot." Curcio doesn't demonstrate much talent for this Charles Bukowski school of prose.
    When the son and father are on stage alone, you feel a lot of genuine interaction. Foresta and Jones skillfully establish a life-long relationship in just seconds. When you sense Curcio working hard as a playwright to make thematic things happen, he falters. Zig is there to bring the play to a logical, neat end, but it was the messy strands that I was enjoying so much.

What: "Rambis"
When: 8 pm. Fridays-Saturdays (through March 6); 8 p.m. March 1
Where: 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-114
Tickets: $15-$20 (369-3692; Insurgo Theater.org)
Grade: C+