Beset by financialtroubles and an ill-advised expansion to Cleveland caused by what Alan Greenspan might term "irrational exuberance," the Bang and the Clatter founders Sean McConaha and Sean Derry have been forced to fold their tents in both Cleveland and Akron.
But their final production gives a capsule view of what they contributed to the local theater scene. Lady, authored by Craig Wright (Six Feet Under), is just the kind of challenging, edgy play B&C did so well.
During their annual hunting trip, Kenny and Dyson are killing time in the woods waiting for their friend Graham, who is a U.S. Congressman. Although Kenny is fretting about his frisky spaniel Lady, who has run off somewhere, he's basically in good spirits.
But liberal firebrand Dyson is seething because his old pal Graham, who won his congressional seat as a Democrat in a traditionally Republican district, has just issued a statement in support of George W. Bush and the war. Worse, Graham — an old family friend — has influenced Dyson's 18-year-old son to join the Marines.
Innocence and violence collide in this play, with a shocking occurrence that disturbs as much as it instructs. And thanks to Wright's easy-flowing and quick-witted dialogue, these efforts never seem didactic or forced.
Under Derry's sharp direction, the three-man cast handles the material with admirable precision. As the sweet, pot-smoking Kenny, William Martin is thoroughly believable. Richard Worswick radiates intensity as the idealistic Dyson, although he could bring more shading and texture to some of his scenes. And Jeffrey Grover has the impenetrable veneer of a politician down pat.
Played in an intimate space filled with dirt and leaves, Lady reminds us of the powerful honesty and compelling immediacy that Bang & Clatter could bring to a stage. Due to demand, BNC has extended the show by a week. After that, they will be sorely missed.