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Revenge and Guilt

  • Theater, Drama
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Revenge and Guilt. Kraine Theater (see Off-Off Broadway). Written and directed by Marc Spitz. With Peter Buck Dettmann, Emily Russell, Tom Vaught. Running time: 1hr 45mins. One intermission.

Revenge and Guilt: in brief

A bitter man tracks down the onetime guitar teacher he blames for all of his troubles in a nasty farce by downtown playwright, music journo and first-time director Marc Spitz.

Revenge and Guilt: theater review by Jenna Scherer

What happens to disaffected youth when they become disaffected adults? According to Revenge and Guilt, the answer is: lots of whining, some drug use and maybe a little petty crime. Taking its title from an Elvis Costello quote about the drives that motivate his songwriting, Marc Spitz’s play tells the story of sad-sack manchild Cal (Dettmann) and his doomed romantic escapade with manic sexy dream criminal Gina (Russell). Cal blames his failure to become a rock god not on himself (the correct answer) but on jerky guitar teacher Marvin (Vaught), who told him he didn’t have the chops when he was 13. So naturally, uh…revenge?

Playwright and music journalist Spitz’s mitts are all over this play: He wrote the thing, it’s his directorial debut, and it oozes the Poseur author’s trademark 20th-century rock references like pus from a blister. So it’s hard to separate the mediocre script from the worse-than-mediocre production. The pace drags throughout, and an extended nude postcoital scene is both unnecessary and gimmicky. He doesn’t get much out Dettmann and Russell, who have the majority of the stage time and whose acting skills leave a lot to be desired.

But Spitz has something in the Lebowski-esque Marvin, both the most interesting character and played by the best performer. His rants about the ’90s New York music scene provide the play’s most honest—and funniest—moments. It doesn’t have to be all sex and violence for sex and violence’s sake; Costello soon grew out of his “revenge and guilt” phase, after all. Maybe it’s time Spitz did, too.—Theater review by Jenna Scherer

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