The Bullpen. Playroom Theatre (see Off-Off Broadway). By Joe Assadourian. Dir. Richard Hoehler. With Assadourian. 1hr 10mins. No intermission.
The Bullpen: In Brief
Joe Assadourian plays 18 characters in his solo show about a man on trial, which he developed while serving 12 years in prison for attempted murder. Richard Hoehler directs under the aegis of the pro–ex-con Fortune Society.
The Bullpen: Theater review by Adam Feldman
The first time you see a performer as blazingly gifted as Joe Assadourian, you may wonder: Where has this guy been? In Assadourian’s case, there’s an answer. Less than a year ago, he was released from prison, where he had served 12 years for a 2001 assault. Now 35, he has written The Bullpen, a comedic solo show inspired by his experience after getting arrested. With no prior acting credits or training to his name, he plays 18 characters, moving rapidly among distinct accents and physical styles: a fast-talking Latino dynamo, a wry Middle Easterner, an nearly unintelligible Dominican, a mush-mouthed public defender, a lip-smacking Jewish judge.
The result is astonishing. Under Richard Hoehler’s direction, Assadourian performs with a physical energy, tight focus and fast-talking fluidity that call to mind more seasoned solo stars like John Leguizamo. (It’s seems clear he’s been a gifted comic mimic all his life.) The Bullpen could use some tweaking to file down some clichés, flesh out Assadourian’s own character and nail down a more effective ending. But it provides a fascinating perspective on criminal mind-sets and offers a rare joy for theatergoers: the thrill of watching a natural talent get sprung on the world.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE An ex-con tells of his trials and tribulations in a remarkable stage debut.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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Had to be coaxed into seeing this play Friday. Within a minute, I knew I was a lucky witness to theater magic.
"The Bullpen," starring Joseph Assadourian - who had never seen a play when he wrote this - is absolutely brilliant, ridiculously hilarious, and a freight train of natural talent. On a nearly bare stage and using just a very spare soundtrack of effects, he morphs into 18 extremely colorful characters who take part in two trials, one mock and one real. It's a fast and furious laughfest. The wickedly funny Assadourian is a master of mimicry, and uses no props, just gestures and sound, to bring these characters to life in your mind. His acting and versatility will simply amaze you. During the optional Q&A afterwards, I learned other viewers shared my feelings.
Definitely go see this very funny, real, poignant show. And thank you for a great show, Joe!