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Gordy Crashes

Theatre Review by Howard Miller

Dave Klasko and Jody Flader
Photo by Erik Carter

You probably know someone like Gordy, the title character in playwright Sam Byron's Gordy Crashes, the inaugural production of Ricochet Collective now on view at IRT Theater. Gordy is likeable, smart, and engaging, but he also is clueless and unreliable, so that he is constantly apologizing for offending while continuing to put his foot in his mouth.

Temporarily homeless thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 superstorm that hit the region like a ton of bricks, Gordy (Dave Klasko) has landed on the doorstep of his ex-girlfriend, Mere (Jody Flader), in search of shelter until he can get back into his own East Village apartment.

To be fair, and assuming he is being completely honest, Gordy is not expecting Mere to be the one who buzzes him in. It is actually her roommate Ally who has offered him a place to stay after he has been bouncing around from couch to couch and is running out of friends he can impose on. He is exhausted, disheveled, and weighted down with the burden of hauling around his stuff in a big backpack and trash bag. Ally is nowhere to be seen, and, indeed, never does show up—but here is Mere, as big as life and less than thrilled to see him after he bailed on her a year earlier.

If you sense the set-up for a battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy, you'd be partly correct. Certainly, there is plenty of characteristically biting banter and underlying sexual tension in Gordy and Mere's early scenes together, and you can tell they once were in a real relationship, even when they get into an argument over whether they need to go out to vote, this being Election Day.

The playwright has a real gift for capturing the kind of hyperbolic dialog that characterizes such increasingly pointless arguments colored by elevating emotions, along the lines of "do you believe in the democratic process?" and "last time I checked the ConstitutionÂ…" This is funny stuff for us to observe from the safety of our theater seats. But Mere is not laughing, and recognizing she and Gordy are simply falling into their old habits, she becomes disgusted and decides to leave the apartment for the night.

Gordy isn't alone for long, though. Someone enters through the window from the fire escape, an African American man that Gordy, who is white, takes to be a burglar. As it turns out, however, the intruder is an upstairs neighbor named Job (Ruffin Prentiss), who says he has befriended Ally and Mere, and who then proceeds to make himself at home. Job knows where the beer is hidden, and he persuades Gordy to join him in polishing off a couple of cases of brew. As the beers loosen their tongues, it seems Job knows a lot about how to push Gordy's buttons, and their time together represents a culmination of Gordy's own "perfect storm" of doubt and anxiousness that punched him in the gut with the arrival of the hurricane. There is camaraderie and confrontation galore, and some blood is shed on both sides. When Mere returns, she is confronted with a wrecked apartment and a wrecked ex-boyfriend. It's up to her to decide whether she will pick up the pieces of both.

Despite a shaggy and occasionally meandering plot, Gordy Crashes, with a run time of 80 minutes, offers up sharp dialog that perfectly captures the insecurity and uncertainty that marks the lives of 20-somethings like Gordy, who has yet to find a replacement for the kind of intellectual argumentation that undoubtedly served him well as a late-adolescent college student. It is real life that eludes him now, and he must face the question that Job poses: "Why do you care so much about what other people think about you?" Under the direction of Sherri Eden Barber, Ms. Flader and Mr. Prentiss give excellent performances in roles that serve largely as foils to the central character, and Mr. Klasko truly shines as Gordy, capturing both his boyish charm and his flair for passive-aggression and self-destructiveness.

Gordy Crashes
Through June 27
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission
IRT Theater, 154 Christopher Street, #3B (third floor)
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: BrownPaperTickets

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