Andrew Hoehler & Joey Arena in Reservoir Dogs. Photo courtesy of The Alley Theater.
By Quentin Tarantino
Directed by Patrick Bias
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2017 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved
Reservoir Dogs is one of the more striking debut films from a director; a bold, gritty, crime story featuring some nasty characters and fashioned through a non-traditional narrative. It announced the arrival of a cocky but innovative filmmaker named Quentin Tarantino. Two years later he released the even more explosive Pulp Fiction, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Alley Theater first presented a stage version four years ago; one of the last productions in their previous location. This remount follows the pattern of two concurrent productions; one male cast and one female cast, but uses a new script that sticks more closely to the shooting script of the film. It’s a bloody and profane tale of the aftermath of a botched diamond heist in which we catch up with most of the members of the crew at a derelict building designated for the post-robbery rendezvous.
Some of the action is violent, and more than a little cruel, so this is not for the faint-of-heart. It also makes liberal use of the “N” word, and the dialogue is more than a little hard on women, which makes the notion of a distaff version particularly interesting, but this is tough, adult stuff.
The staging by director Patrick Bias emulates the movie just enough to resonate, but still feels like his version of the story. Opening credits and a couple of filmed sequences (well managed by a crew led by Remington Smith), along with a recreation of the hits of the1980’s soundtrack, emphasize the cinematic origin of the material, but the tone of the performance is less hyperbolic than Tarantino. There are a few moments where a touch of hysteria might have been welcome, but for the most part, the more understated reading is an effective approach.
The ensemble cast is fairly strong, and it was nice to see Chris Petty back onstage as Mr. Blonde, the calm psychopath who commits the most heinous act of violence. Scott Goodman and DonShea Stringer were also very good in their scenes together, the nature of which I won’t reveal, since not everybody has seen the movie. Andrew Hoehler and Joey Arena effectively carry a lot of the weight early on, and Marc McHone balances suffering the indignities of a brutal torture scene with a cure delivery of the notorious opening scene about Madonna’s Like A Virgin. Daniel Smith does some of his best work as the pugnacious Nice Guy Eddie, although John Lina seems a little too elegant and civilized for his rough-and-tumble crime boss father, Joe. Still, they make for a very plausible father-son team.
One could argue that this Reservoir Dogs could use a little jolt of energy – it may be slightly too laid back in its approach; but it has the right sensibility and doesn’t shy away from the rougher aspects of the story. Tarantino creates a vicious, post-noir criminal environment in which casual racism, misogyny, and violence are commonplace, populated by characters to which life seems to have little or no value.
The men are up this weekend, and the women get their turn next week. After that, the two shows alternate on a schedule through April 1.
Reservoir Dogs in rotation with Reservoir Bitches
March 2 – April 1 2017
Go to thealleytheater.org for exact schedule for each production and tickets.
Tickets $20 ($18 for students / seniors / military)
The Alley Theater
615 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of PUBLIC on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.