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Sitting in the Dark

Two Desperate Men

The F-Troupe Collaborative does small theater like no other
Someone Who'll Watch Over Me by F-Troupe Collaborative
Published on March 24, 2011

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For those of you who have never seen an F-Troupe Collaborative production, would you please be so kind as to skip down to the paragraph capped with the title Two Desperate Men?

Go ahead. That’s okay. We’ll wait.

There. Now that we’re alone, have you ever noticed a common thread running through F-Troupe’s work? I call it the Two Desperate Men in a Fill-in-the-Blank Formula.

Last year’s staging of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story? Two desperate men — though only one knew it at the onset — in a park. Before that, The Dumbwaiter? Two desperate men in a prison of their own making. Taking three steps back so as to get a better view, The Pillowman? Two desperate men in a prison, a real one this time.

Excuse me for just a moment …

Ahem. Yes, you. No, no, no, not you … you. Cheating a little, aren’t we? Please run along and proceed to the paragraph identified earlier in instructions that I submit can only be described as crystal clear. There you go. That’s it. Thank you.

Now where were we? Ah, yes.

Requiring a heftier trek in time traveling, remember Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker? Two and a half desperate men (indulge me this one time, we’re almost home) in a dismal flat.

Is it just me, or is there a certain sameness in the offerings brought to us by the play selection committee at the company that is far too tiny to have enough members to form a committee of any kind?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all sure that this observation is a criticism. We’ll see why in a moment.

Two Desperate Men

No one does small theater quite like the F-Troupe Collaborative.

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

minor white studios
1111 North 13th Street
(402) 510-8392
event details

Through March 27

Sure, there’s Andrew McGreevey and his SkullDuggery Theatre, but that cadre of performers can only be described as medium theater. After all, their productions often aspire to litter a stage with as many as six or more actors. That would be considered an epic by F-Troupe standards.

No, the Two Desperate Men in a Fill-in-the-Blank Formula is right where F-Troupe seems to thrive.

Won’t take my word for it? Check out Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me before its run ends this Sunday.

Three men languish in a …

Okay, ya got me. That blows the much-hyped Two Desperate Men in a Fill-in-the-Blank Formula. Or does it? Perhaps you’ll excuse me for taking liberties above when you see that, for a significant amount of the evening, it is, in fact, only two desperate men.

Three men, a brassy American (Michael McCandless), a jaded Irishman (Jonathan Purcell) and a bookish Brit (Michael Arch), languish — yes, this is where we left off — they languish in a dank room somewhere in Beirut, held there by unseen captors.

And that’s pretty much it in this decidedly plot-deprived work. But what a work it is.

They flit and they flail, at least as much as one can flit and flail when tethered to poles by short stretches of chains connected to leg irons. They loll and they laze. They dream and they despair.

The seldom seen McCandless is as fine as I can remember him on any stage, especially in this weightiest of roles.

Those of you who have seen Purcell and Arch together — don’t worry, I’m not going to ask some of you to skip ahead again — in The Pillowman, any number of earlier works at Creighton University, or especially in The Caretaker, you are already familiar with the special chemistry that comes whenever these two actors play two desperate men.

Their performances here are cringe-worthy, the good kind, the edge-of-your-seat sort of cringe-worthy that will have you clenching your teeth in this powerful drama that is as taut as it is lyrical.

A somewhat cerebral work? Yes, and I loved it. Talky? Yes, and I loved it. Political? Not so much, even though I had fully expected it to be. And I loved it.

Director William E.P. Davis’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me is must-see theatre this weekend.

Photo Credit: Bill Sitzmann

VerstehenDavid Williams is a longtime performing arts critic whose ramblings have appeared in such publications as The Reader and The City Weekly, among several others.