The Golfer: Theater review by Raven Snook
Don't worry if you've never understood James Joyce. Although at times the hero of this absurdist odyssey, Flynn (Broderick Ballantyne, charmingly confused throughout), clutches a dog-eared copy of the modernist master's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, you don't need to know anything about his oeuvre to be tickled by Brian Parks's gleefully out-there dark comedy. It starts off with a familiar setup as depressed office drone Flynn counts down the tedious minutes before he can escape to tee up with his bud. But when he's struck by lightning, he falls down the gopher hole into a nonsensical dunderland, where he encounters a cursing, slave-driving Santa; Latin-speaking rednecks; a cabaret-singing Tooth Fairy; Christians fleeing from lions; a very pissy Abraham Lincoln and other unexpected oddballs, both historic and fictional.
Smartly, the one-act play moves at a much-brisker pace than golf. So, much like Flynn, you don't have time to get your bearings or get bored, either. Even sequences that sound moronic, like three puppet castrati gonads crooning a lament about their fate, turn out to be a riot thanks to a versatile, multiple-role-juggling ensemble that takes silliness seriously, and indie theater stalwart Ian W. Hill's direction, which favors characterization over camp. (At the performance I attended, Hill had to step in for an ailing actor, sans costume, script in hand. His enthusiastic performance, especially as an amped-up astronomer who thinks he's spotted the face of God, was proof that he knows what makes these wackos tick.)
In a way, Joyce's Ulysses might have been the more apt book for Flynn to carry. Much like that eternally analyzed book, The Golfer is hard to read. Are we in Flynn's dream? Is he dead? What the hell is going on, anyway? There are no definitive answers. So stop trying to make sense of it all and just enjoy the ridiculous ride.—Raven Snook
The Brick (Off-Off Broadway). By Brian Parks. Directed by Ian W. Hill. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.