Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: New Jersey

From the Intriguing Mind of Nicky Silver

(l-r) Jason Romas and Geoff Wilson
On the surface, Nicky Silver's 1996 play Fit to be Tied, now having its New Jersey premiere at 12 Miles West in Montclair, is an absurdist, outrageous farcical comedy. However, in both the writing and production, beneath the madcap exterior, there is great sadness.

It is the year-end holiday season in New York. Our narrator and chief protagonist, Arloc, informs us that his lover has just died as a result of AIDS, and that he has on his mantel an unopened diagnosis from his doctor of a splotch on his skin.

The independently wealthy Arloc, now in his late twenties (he inherited his father's fortune when he was twelve) lives alone in his Manhattan apartment to which he has invited vapid but pretty Boyd for an assignation. Arloc has become enamored of Boyd by watching him portray an angel in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show. Boyd arrives in full angel regalia, and in short order is strapped hands and feet into a chair equipped for such activity. Having lured Boyd into the chair, Arloc decides that he will keep him a prisoner.

At this very moment, Arloc's disinherited mother Nessa arrives, causing Arloc to gag Boyd with an angel feather and drag him into another room. It turns out that Nessa has come to move in with Arloc, having left her somewhat abusive second husband as Arloc had urged her to do.

Surely, Silver will wring laughs from the outré and getting more so situation comedy setup. However, while providing laughs and entertainment is the game, Silver is clearly a sad and compassionate clown with a lot more on his mind. Arloc and Nessa both are needy and selfish (as are Boyd and Carl, Nessa's husband), but, despite years of estrangement, they do reach out to help one another at crucial moments.

Geoff Wilson is moving as Arloc. He strongly projects the quality of a rich, lost man-child who cannot comprehend his impulsive destructive acts and deep well of unhappiness. While Wilson does provoke some laughter, it is the lost side of Arloc which his interpretation most evokes.

Most of the play's laughs are in the very capable hands of Gloria Falzer. Her Nessa is so charming that we adore her in all her nymphomaniacal monstrousness. Her comic timing is excellent and no one would ever doubt her ability to physically appeal to a youthful Boyd.

Jason Romas is appropriately bland as Boyd. V. Gene Myers lends solid support as Nessa's husband, Carl.

With a few dollars more at his disposal, I'm certain that set designer William Chin would have given us a better sense of the neglected luxury of Arloc's apartment. However, his design is perfectly playable and gets the job done.

Liz Zazzi's costumes are solidly appropriate. Playable is certainly worth mentioning in the case of the angel suit. I'm certain that Gloria Falzer appreciates the perfect pinkish grey frock which Zazzi has designed to be her New Year's Eve dress.

There is one bit in Fit to be Tied that exemplifies the comic genius of Nicky Silver at his best. It is the idea that Boyd has to make a one actor avant-garde film of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night. Arloc would play Mary Tyrone. The camera would observe her sleeping and taking drugs in her room while the conversations of her husband and sons would be heard in voiceovers. Of course, this is a funny Nicky Silver jape. On the other hand, it also shows us Silver's identification with this desperately unhappy, isolated within her own family, woman. Furthermore, it is also such an intriguing notion that it seizes the mind and makes one actually envision what such an enterprise would be like.

Director Gary Martins has done a very solid job all around. Nicky Silver's ability to present over the top characters and situations while enabling us to perceive his creations as all too real human beings is something special. However, it requires the strong and sensitive direction that Martins delivers to realize Silver's delicate vision.

In producing Fit to be Tied and bringing to us the work of the zany and serious Nicky Silver, 12 Miles West proves again to be a valuable resource for Jersey theatergoers.

Fit to be Tied continues through February 15 at 12 Miles West Theatre Company (on the lower level of the Claridge Cinema Building), 488 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042. Box Office: 973-746-7181; online

Fit to be Tied by Nicky Silver; directed by Gary Martins. Cast (in order of appearance): Geoff Wilson (Arloc); Gloria Falzer (Nessa); Jason Romas (Boyd); V. Gene Myers (Carl).

Photo courtesy of 12 Miles West

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Bob Rendell

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