Year of the Rooster: In brief
Ensemble Studio Theatre begins its 46th season with a mythic cockfighting comedy by Youngblood playwright Eric Dufault. John Giampietro directs a cast of five (some playing animals).
Year of the Rooster: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Eric Dufault's comical cockfight thriller Year of the Rooster, written for Youngblood, brims with that group's ferocious, under-30 pep. Unfortunately, the piece is so preoccupied with energy—stage combat, shouting matches—that it feels like whacking a piñata: There's savagery, but the target hangs pretty damn low.
McDonald's employee and all-around loser Gil Pepper (Thomas Lyons) wants to break into his local cockfighting scene, which is dominated by villainous Dickie Thimble (Denny Dale Bess). Suddenly, inexplicably, Gil's got just the bird to do it. Odysseus Rex (Bobby Moreno in punky feather epaulets) struts around Gil's tumbledown home, itching to fight and doomed for the ring. One standout scene—Odysseus's encounter with a genetically manipulated hen (Megan Tusing)—shows Dufault at his inspired, twisted best when he unleashes his bitterness at man's inhumanity to fowl. The interhuman violence, though, takes on easy targets (clichés such as the wicked Midwest), and director John Giampietro, blessed with a menagerie of strong actors, turns things up to a volume that becomes merely deafening.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
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