by Ed Malin · April 2, 2016
The Golfer is a new play by Brian Parks, presented by Gemini CollisionWorks, now playing at The Brick Theater. Ian Hill directs and more. If you’re looking for a great big stage adventure from a writer who, through past efforts like Americana Absurdum, has helped shape the indie theater scene, this is it.
The action comes in dozens of brief, biting scenes. Flynn (Broderick Ballantyne) is working in some kind of irrelevant office job. When it’s time to fix his computer, his IT Guy (Bob Laine) bemoans a world in which things only give the illusion of functioning. Fortunately, Flynn and his colleague Cotter (Fred Backus) can live large through playing golf. They do this in outfits of glaring plaid, topped with tam o’shanter and pompous pom-poms. When lightning strikes just as Flynn has raised his golf club high, his horrific journey begins.
It is a hilarious, hallucinatory romp through Western civilization. Flynn, whose plaid is charred, meets the gatekeeper of the underworld (Timothy McCown Reynolds), and, disagreeing with him, experiences many semi-real sequences. Flynn lands amid a game of cards played by rustic Caucasian trash (Bob Laine, Fred Backus) and a pregnant woman of unspecified blood ties to them (Lex Friedman), who all speak Latin. Flynn finds himself talking to puppets who represent the floating, severed gonads of castrated chorus boys. Flynn meets the Tooth Fairy (Rebecca Gray Davis), who sometimes sings and recommends the works of James Joyce. He meets a British Member of Parliament who is excited about the upcoming re-invasion of India. On the road to Canterbury, Flynn encounters a Reeve who ardently wants the Wife of Bath to shut up. There are jaded opera-goers and beautiful Valkyries. When looking into a telescope, an astronomer (Ian Hill) and Flynn enrage the Almighty, who hurls a meteor down at them. Many more story episodes leave Flynn quite bewildered (and require “lightning-fast” costume changes, for which we can thank Kaitlyn Day). Is he dead or will he come out of this? If he does come back to life, will the world of the living be any less insane?
From trigonometry to tooth collection, here you will find a broad range of productive conflicts. The play is full of unexpected insights, which are followed by blackouts just long enough to spark the imagination. For example, Flynn’s aging Mom (Alyssa Simon) believes foreign languages are superior because they use expressions we don’t have. The cast are veterans of experimental theater, and are well-chosen for this effort. Ian Hill’s direction makes the fast-paced spectacle feel like a dream, even the bus rides through a somewhat xenophobic America. Anna Stefanic provides some original music and also plays Young Flynn, etc.