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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Fraser's Snake in Fridge Presented at
San Francisco's Actors Theater

Also see Richard's recent review of Lady in the Dark


The Actors Theatre of San Francisco is presenting Snake in Fridge, a gothic horror story for the 21st century. It has been called, "The Amityville Horror meets Boogie Nights" and this is its American premier. The grotesque tale had its world premier at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, England last year. The Manchester Evening News called it "superbly slick," and, "technically inventive." I have to say it was different and Brad Fraser, the playwright, is certainly getting his wish. When talking about his play, he said, "I want people to come out discussing what they have seen and questioning who the characters were and how they lived." That we did. You have to say this is "in your face, no holds barred" drama.

Brad Fraser is one of Canada's better known playwrights and has always been known for his cutting edge plays. He has been quite successful in the UK with his productions of Martin Yesterday which the NCTC did last year. His Poor Superman was the talk of London Theatre several seasons ago and has now been made into a film. His best known work is Unidentified Human Remains which was also made into a film several years ago.

This drama centers on twenty-somethings living in an old creaky Victorian house in a run down part of Toronto. Some are gay, some are straight and all are just getting by financially. The lights in the house don't work half the time and the house itself has a terrible secret. This group is the epitome of dysfunctional misfits.

The characters include Corbett who is three months in arrears on the rent. He is a straight porno dancer who dances for men at night in a gay bar and he "hates fags." He pumps a lot of drugs and cocaine throughout the three hour play. I don't think he is ever off drugs in this play since most of his dialogue consists of obscenities and the F-word. He also worries about having only a 4-inch penis. Elijah Berlow plays this drug saturated person completely over the top. His acting could be toned down quite a bit. His style is more for a large stage in a large theater and it is just too much from this small stage in a small theater. I really fault the director for this since Berlow appears to be a very good actor.

Jennifer Welch plays the controlling Caddie who is a stripper at night and takes care of her retarded sister Donna, played very well by Nike Yapo. Ms. Yapo has the best lines in the play and she is exceptional in her role. Paul D'Addario does a creditable characterization of an ex film porno star who is now a wheeler-dealer, getting people to perform before live cameras on a porno website in Canada. I have seen the accomplished Mr. D'Addario in better roles and here it looks as if he is doing a Mamet play.

There is a strange older man lurking about the house who is played in true creepy style by David Roger Darrell. He plays the role in the style of Dennis Hopper. The rest of the cast members are adequate.

The script at times runs away from these characters and the story gets so confusing that you forget about the plot of the play. It is very disjointed with blackout scenes that last 1 to 2 minutes with rapid patter between the characters. It is like watching an MTV music vignette. There is no time to develop any kind of relationship between the audience and the characters.

I have to say that Mr. Fraser seems to have missed the boat in this production. However if you want an oily, quick and action-packed play with love and sex in many forms, along with violence and abuse, in a crazy mess of relationships, then this is your cup tea.

Snake In Fridge runs through December 14 at the Actors Theatre of San Francisco located at 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $25 General Admission. Call (415)296-9176 for tickets or visit at actorstheaterSF.org

Their next production will be Kenneth Lonergan's This is Our Youth which will open at the end of January. Mr. D'Addario will be directing this production.




Cheers - and be sure to check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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