Aired on KSDS-FM on 3/17/17
RUN DATES: 2/23/17 – 3/26/17
VENUE: The Old Globe
Playwright Nick Gandiello thinks his new work is a comedy. It isn’t. Although there are a few mildly amusing lines in his world premiere, “The Blameless,” the subject couldn’t be more serious.
The Garcia family is still reeling from the murder of young Jesse a year ago. Now, on the anniversary of his death in a school shooting, they’re about to entertain the father of the perpetrator of the crime.
Nobody’s able to cope, and everyone thinks maybe this wasn’t such a good way to foster compassion and catharsis. So, 17 year-old Theresa gets in trouble at school, and her parents wind up screaming at her and at each other.
Into this maelstrom strolls Drew Davis, who also isn’t really sure why he’s there – though he’s not bothered by the reporters outside.
So far, so dramatic.
But the piece turns out to be more of a premise than a play. Maybe the point is that there just is no understanding these monstrous acts. But onstage, at least, we crave some sense of completion, if not resolution. There’s a lot of buildup here, but no payoff.
Drew isn’t a particularly well-drawn, fleshed-out character. Nor is Theresa’s nice-guy boyfriend. Even the core family is shallowly depicted, though the cast does their damndest to express their grief and pain.
They certainly seem prickly and agitated, but none of them is believably from New York. There are so many loose or unexplained elements here, from the mention of Hanukkah to Drew’s unwillingness to take any political stand.
The direction, by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, has Drew facing away from one side of the stage for an extended period. So we missed all of his one true emotional response. The White Theatre arena space was not efficiently or consistently used. And the mostly-tidy kitchen/dining room doesn’t look remotely like the “pig-sty” Theresa describes.
There may be nothing worse than losing a child. And there’s little more horrific than senseless school violence. But this isn’t the play that goes deep enough to provide insight, enlightenment or any sense of how to hasten the healing.
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews/