All the Rage
Thu Aug 7 2008
Photograph: Benjamin Jaeger-Thomas
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5
Keith Reddin’s All the Rage is a postmodern look at emotion in dumbed-down, doped-up America. At first, it’s a crime drama: Warren (Greg Stuhr) stands in the living room, trying to explain the body on the floor and the gun in his hand to his wife, Helen (Anne Bobby), and later to a stereotypically callous cop, Tyler (Steve Deighan). From there, the script becomes a parade of characters trapped in a strip-mall show (Travis McHale’s set is a literal strip between audience seating). Things move forward (“Nothing matters, because there’s a reason for everything,” someone notes), but the subdued tone never connects the scenes and the only thing that sells is the acting.
Anger makes the characters silly, especially as Reddin stretches the plot to ensure all ten meet one another. Preppy Chris (Benjamin Jaeger-Thomas) tries to escape his depression by buying himself a gun. Norton (Peter Reznikoff), a hopelessly theatrical eccentric, flees the play’s world and speaks only to the audience. Tennel (an uninhibited Jeffrey Plunkett) tries to find love by quitting the well-paid job he hates. And splatter-punk fan Annabel (the winning Laura Schwenninger) takes pleasure in threatening to sic her bugging-out brother, Sydney (the scary-good Ryan Michael Jones), on anyone who shows her a bit of kindness.
Despite the title, the play is filled with comic apathy, not rage. Even Daryl Boling’s direction is largely hands-off, with much said, but little done. That may be America, where lively individuals become muted strangers; then again, All the Rage may just piss you off.