Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Savage in Limbo
MetroStage in Alexandria, Virginia, has found a fine vehicle for actors in John Patrick Shanley's play Savage in Limbo, and director Lise Bruneaua notable performer herselfhas brought together five strong performers for this seriocomic meditation on achieving maturity and getting on with one's life.
Scenic designer Robbie Hayes has created a blank slate of a bar in the Bronx: a few nondescript tables, a bare wall, and an unadorned bar. Not even the liquor bottles are visible; the bartender, Murk (Sasha Olinick), seems to find exactly the drink each patron wants without searching or mixing.
Denise Savage (Natascia Diaz), thin and nervous, and Linda Rotunda (Veronica del Cerro), voluptuous and earthy, have known each other forever. They both live at home with their mothers, but they have opposite personalities: Denise is a tense virgin who wants something more in her life, and Linda has had a lot of men (and several children) but doesn't know exactly what she's looking for. Also in the bar are April White (Jenna Sokolowski), who once planned to be a nun but now spends most of her time drinking, and Tony Aronica (Michael Kevin Darnall), Linda's current companion who has stunned her by saying he wants to leave her and experience sex with ugly women. All four of them, as well as the bartender, are 32 years old, and (except for the bartender) they are ready for a change, or at least they want to believe they are.
The actors make the most of Shanley's meaty, juicy roles, luxuriating in the flights of languagesimultaneously poetic and profaneand rich Bronx accents. Diaz stifles her usual physical grace, conveying Denise's frustrated passion through penetrating eyes and awkward postures. Del Cerro is a hoot in her cleavage-baring sweater and snug jeans, never holding back, and Sokolowski gives a haunting, and haunted, performance as a woman who copes with disillusionment one drink at a time.
The men's characters are less distinct, but Olinick is both amusing and touching as he moves beyond his stock phrases ("You can't sit here unless you order a drink!") and lets his humanity peek through. Darnall gets to play with all the stereotypes of the self-absorbed Italian-American stud who suddenly realizes he might not be as happy as he thinks he is.