Tuesday, May 11, 2010

POW! (Play Of The Week)

Scab
by Sheila Callaghan

Scab n. A crust discharged from and covering a healing wound.

We know that patience and time provide the proper poultice for a healing wound. Yet whether it's a gash to the heart or a scrape of the knee, the painful relief of ripping off a scab brings temporary satisfaction. Unfortunately, while this orgasmic pleasure may feel good in the moment, in truth it only leads to future scars. These wounds and their repair are the subject of Sheila Callaghan’s darkly comic and honestly poetic Scab, an intriguing foray into love, loss, and who I slept with.

As the play opens, we met Anima, a self described ‘sorta classy sorta trashy’ specialist and SoCal theatre grad student. She has just returned from her physically abusive father’s funeral and been unceremoniously dumped by her ‘skinny erudite-looking’ boyfriend Alan, an older grad student who has ‘penetrated nineteen women, not including you, with my average sized penis.’ These events have left her wheezing and paralyzed on her apartment floor, when we are introduced to her new roommate, Christa.

Perky and James Taylor-loving, Christa studies ‘the conflict of women in bohemian circles at the turn of the century in France.’ Her camcorder constantly recording, she and Anima are polar opposites. Christa is ordered; Anima is not. Christa studies history; Anima doesn’t go to class. Christa likes Anne Geddes; Anima wonders ‘…who the fuck thinks sticking a kid in cabbage is cute?’ And thus the stage is set for a tale of love (both burgeoning and unrequited), secrets (both of the past and the present), and Jack Daniels (both straight and straight).

Christa gradually becomes the belle of the ball, winning the envy and admiration of her grad school cohorts and faculty, and the hearts and hungers of Anima and Alan. As these two vie for Christa’s affections, scabs are picked, wounds reopened, and loyalties punctured. We learn the depth of love and self-loathing, and also how deep rock bottom must sometimes be before we can truly learn the care and patience needed to heal.

Scab is full of rich imagery and lyric language. Its hyper-realistic style (complete with a talking Virgin Mary statue and a plant named Susan) is full of terrific scenes and monologues. Callaghan always pushes the bounds of theatre, and again adds a play worthy of reading and production to her blossoming canon. So grab a copy, and whether you pick at it slowly or rip it quick, this Scab is sure to satisfy.

Cast: 4F, 1M

Great scenes (F/F, F/M), monologues (early 20’s F/M, 40’s F) Reviewed by Ben

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