As made abundantly clear in his earlier plays Razorback and A Small Tragedy, John Pollono is a playwright of exquisite gravitas. Pollono’s latest play Small Engine Repair opens in the repair shop of Frank, where we are treated to an arranged reconciliation of Frank’s two childhood friends the cool pick-up artist Swaino and Packie, their “sawed off hobbit,” chronically unemployed buddy who still lives with his grandmother at 32.
The peace parley gets off to a rocky start. Swaino (to Packie) “Trading barbs with you is like throwing rocks at a retard”, but eventually, with the ample encouragement of the freely poured Scotch by Frank the fences are mended.
“Thirty years,” laments Frank, “we’re practically family.” The dialogue is raw, sexual and dead on funny.
We learn quickly the boys have drifted apart, and Frank’s skank “ex”, the mother of his cherished 17-year-old daughter Crystal, is in town, demanding to know why Frank hasn’t allowed them to speak for the past two months. Throughout it all the fuse is heard burning away, promising an explosion beyond the clever dialogue and gut busting funny reminiscing of the three old friends.
It comes with the arrival of Chad, a preppie drug dealer who Frank has arranged to buy ecstasy off of.
From this point on the gloves come off in a brutal confrontation which will test just how much of a “family” the three friends are. I will not go into a synopsis of the actions that follow, those should be experienced fresh, and this play should be seen.
Jon Bernthal as Swaino, Michael Redfield as Packie and the playwright himself as Frank are beyond impressive with Josh Helman as Chad adding the cherry atop a tour-de-force acting ensemble.
Director Andrew Block works the confines of a small stage with energetic aplomb assuring in this short work that not only is every moment riveting, but every nano-moment is as well.
Rogue Machine, the company behind this splendid production, first planted its banner with an ambitious and thoroughly successful mounting of Stage Beauty in 2008. With this latest production they prove again they are a group of talent, vision and even more importantly guts.
Small Engine Repair is a must see.
SMALL ENGINE REPAIR
Friday and Saturday at 10:30 pm
Sunday at 7:00 pm
(No performance April 18th)
5041 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tickets $25 ($15 for students, seniors and groups)
Reservations: (323) 960-4424 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com