This week in Theater
Written by Robert Massey
Review by Rose Desena
I love the fact that Ron Sossi has a good connection with Fishamble, the Dublin-based theater organization. Ron’s relationship and collaborations have brought us “Silence” and “Forgotten” with Pat Kinevane, and now, working with other Fishamble talent, he brings us “Rank,” Irish playwright Robert Massey’s affectionate story about two taxi drivers: their weaknesses, mistakes and the friendships that get them through the worst of times. Wilson Milam (director) is at the helm of this enthralling story. Milam has some history of his own when it comes to Irish playwrights and certainly brings out the best in his actors. He is no stranger to LA; his production of the “Lieutenant of Inishmore” was excellent and he has a good understanding of American audiences.
The legendary Ron Bottitta plays Jackie Farrell, a hard boiled gangster who made it to the big time and makes sure everyone knows it. Bottitta has been at the Odyssey so much over the past year I heard Sossi gave him a nice little room in the back. Kidding aside, he is absolutely endearing as the arrogant mob boss. His sidekick, Jason Killalee (Fred Farrell) is perfect casting, both Bottitta and Killalee have great chemistry and feed off each other very well. Although I know Bottitta in real life is just a big softie he does a great job being the condescending egotistical slightly crazy bad guy.
David Schaal, the well-connected guy who walked away from a dodgy past, and Kevin Kearns, a weak individual distraught by the loss of his wife, are both very believable as the two cabbies challenged with possibly life changing moral issues that they encounter when they approach Jackie for a little good ol’ boy favor.
Karl Maschek, who plays the third taxi driver, is so funny I laughed just looking at him. He captures your heart and you just know that wherever he is there is going to be trouble. He is the kind of guy I know from my days in St. Jerome’s, grammar school. I can just see the nuns running after him with the ruler. Something tells me it’s like that for him on and off the stage. He is hysterical in this part. Particularly when he shows off his cell phone photos of the gangster’s wife.
This well written comical story explores a slice of life some of us might never look at, the working class cabbies surviving in rough economic times and an exploration into an isolated subculture laced with deep friendships and family history in a place where you never get to escape your past.
As always the Odyssey provides us with good, creative theater and, what is even better, you can get there without being in traffic for an hour if you’re on the Westside. I love that.
(Weds nights limited) Thursday Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm through May 12.
Writer: Robert Massey
Director: Wilson Milam
Cast: Ron Bottitta, Kevin Kearns, Jason Killalee, Karl Maschek, David Schaal
2055, South Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles CA, 90025
www.odysseytheater.com, 310 477 2055