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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
On an Average Day

Other people have lives. Other people talk to other people. &mdashBobby, talking to his brother Jack.
on an averageday
Left: Stef Tovar, Right: Johnny Clark
Their names are Jack and Bobby, but the Kennedy brothers they're not. In fact, they're more like Jackie O's crazy relatives---the ones who lived in Grey Gardens.

Stef Tovar, a buttoned-down Jack, and Johnny Clark, a crazed Bobby, confront each other for the first time in many years in John Kolvenbach's intense and gripping play On An Average Day. Bobby, who is, literally, a scuzzy bum, lives in the grungy home of their dead parents---or rather, in the grungy recesses of his troubled mind.

He saves newspapers that carry stories about unidentified dead bodies "in case one of them turns out to be me." And he worries about his upcoming trial for attempted murder in which he will have to explain why he threw a man with whom he'd hitched a ride out of a speeding car. Mostly he worries because the "jury of his peers" consists of people he considers "idiots and freaks."

Bobby thinks that Jack has come to help him, but Jack has problems of his own. Both of them were severely damaged by their father, who abandoned them when they were young. But Jack, who at 15 was the elder brother, stayed and, as Bobby acknowledges, "chose to raise me." To which Jack replies, "I just kept on making breakfast."

Jack, in order to entice Bobby to eat, made up fantasies about their father, which Bobby still believes. And then Jack, in turn, abandoned his brother at 15. He has returned now, after an absence of 18 years, with an agenda that is revealed slowly as the two rehash the events of their childhood and disclose the lives they have lived since.

Bobby, filled with fears and phobias, talks sometimes with fierce lucidity, sometimes in schizophrenic gibberish. Drinking all the while. Jack, who finally joins him, beer for beer and whisky for whisky, remains cold and calm until, unexpectedly, the two suddenly engage in one of the most ferocious fights ever seen onstage. For long minutes they hurl each other into cabinets and walls, bang heads into doors, and inflict damage on each other that you are sure will be fatal. Director (and sound designer) Ron Klier, who has done an outstanding job up to this point, has enlisted fight choreographer Ned Mochel to create this scene, which Mochel does so realistically that the brothers wind up panting and bloody in a nearly demolished kitchen.

The kitchen setting is the brilliant work of Danny Cistone (who recently designed the amazing subway set for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot). There is muddy linoleum on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, a three-tiered hanging vegetable holder filled with empty beer cans, a garish turquoise-painted refrigerator, and above, in a visible attic storage space, such things as a child's bike, a wax Santa Claus, a fake Christmas tree, cardboard boxes, a topless steamer trunk, and other detritus of the family that used to be. Derrick McDaniel makes good use of the device of spotlighting the speaker and darkening the rest of the set each time one of the brothers regresses into a memory from the past.

Clothes, designed by Gelareh Khalioun and Erin Mueller, speak volumes about who they are. Jack, in chinos, glasses, and a brown sleeveless sweater, looks like a working stiff. Bobby, in pants torn at the knee, a filthy striped tee shirt, a woolen hat pulled down over his ears, and a gray zipper-front hoodie with tattered cuffs, needs only an overflowing grocery cart to complete his "homeless man" image.

On an Average Day is an emotionally charged play extraordinarily well acted, monumental in its passion, and mind-boggling in its intensity. You won't come away singing its theme song, but you will be left with admiration and wonderment for a play that is beyond awesome.

On An Average Day
By John Kolvenbach
Directed by Ron Klier

Cast: Johnny Clark (Bobby), Stef Tovar (Jack).
Set Design: Danny Cistone
Lighting Design: Derrick McDaniel Sound Design: Ron Klier
Costume Design: Gelareh Khalioun and Erin Mueller

Running Time: 2 hours includies one 15-minute intermission
VS. Theatre Company with the Route 66 Theatre Company, Elephant Theatre Lab, 6324 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, ((323) 860-3283, www.vstheatre.or
From 02/21/08 to 03/22/08; opening 02/23/08
Tickets: $20
Reviewed by Cynthia Citron based on 02/23/08 performance

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