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The Pigeon in the Taj MahalWritten by Laoisa SextonDirected by Alan Cox Starring Laoisa Sexton, John Keating, Johnny Hopkins and Zoë Watkins
Within the relatively streamlined two hours of "The Pigeon in The Taj Mahal," a new play written by Irishwoman Laiosa Sexton, the words spoken by this odd quartet reveals more than just offbeat slangy patter; it presents both a lost inner world and the isolated world of Ireland’s West Country lifers.
When Eddie The Pigeon (John Keating) first appears on stage — a skeletal drink of water with a graying afro rooted on his head — his repetitious babble suggests someone with Asperger’s syndrome. His lives in a decrepit Winnebago — a home once shared with his now-deceased mother — surrounded by Elvis’ music and photos, and not much more. He works as a junkyard security guard and does little else, that is, until the night Lolly (Laoisa Sexton) lands on his doorstep, dropped off there while in a drunken, battered stupor.
Set in a rural trailer park, these two seem to be from very different cultures yet when they confront each other that night they connect in odd ways. He represents an older world of winding roads and lost pathways that not even tourists visit. Though she’s steeped in contemporary accouterment like iPhones and contemporary pop music, Lolly also comes from another kind of isolated life, one of poverty and the seemingly dead-end scene of drunken partying and mutually abusive long-term relationships.
Once Pigeon carries her into his hovel, where she’s revived by a spot of hot tea, the banter shifts from monologue to a dialogue of sorts — two conversations sometimes intersecting, other times passing by with shared misunderstanding. Clearly, he’s excited to find a young woman in smeared makeup and ripped tulle; he exclaims, “You have the uncommon beauty [of] a swan in a dirty lake!”
Dressed like a rumpled-yet-glittery punk-ified bride, Lolly wakes from her addled state acting aggressive yet also intrigued. At once threatening and manipulative, she alternates between being a waif and seductress who can’t quite get a handle on her mark. And when her pal Auntie Rosie (Zoë Watkins) arrives in an equally shattered-and-tattered state, frenzied interplay ensues. Within the banter lies both comedy and pathos. The dynamic between both camps — one lost in the past, the other in the present — highlights how both have become disconnected from realities that urbane city dwellers like us New Yorkers — are normally linked to.
In a funny way, there’s a relevance to this play, as if it’s about people who could be considered the “deplorables.” Especially once coke-head boyfriend Johnny (Johnny Hopkins) arrives to retrieve his consort/victim and joins in on the “dis-assemblage.”
Without stating any profundity here — especially because not much really happens — Sexton’s clever text and Alan Cox’s tight direction keeps the shambling conversation going. While they don’t really say anything that substantial, they survive in their various addled states without knowing exactly what to say — or think. They just drive forward without much reason or purpose but somehow we, as an audience, get it. The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal shows just how much these four people, and those whom they represent, try to survive — at least through this one night.
Rush to see “The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal” at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., NY NY) before it closes this December 31st for its uniquely Irish verbal gymnastics; this convoluted and arcane wordplay makes it worth catching.
To learn more, go to: https://irishrep.org/
The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal
November 27 -December 31st, 2016
Irish Repertory Theatre132 W. 22nd St.New York, NY 10011
Patriots DayDirected by Peter BergScreenplay by Peter Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua ZetumerStarring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Alex Wolff.
With workman-like efficiency, veteran director Peter Berg uses his latest film, Patriots Day, to provide some insight into what happened, who it affected, and how everyone reacted to the 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist bombing. This action-packed "whodunnit" offers an opportunity to make a little sense of something that should never have had to be understood. Dramatizing the dual remote explosion of two pressure cookers placed near the finish line serves several purposes — to celebrate survivors, first responders and investigators while providing a breakdown of just what took place before that day, at the bombings’ moments and the week that followed.
Though he’s not a director who does things with an “arty” touch, his sure-handed work here offers enough details and nuance that makes this film a bit more than just a big-budget TV movie. From the start, stories of the essential participants — Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) — are interwoven as the day begins. Once the bombs explode — unflinchingly shown in graphic detail — Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) joins this visceral chronicle that suspensefully delineates the ever-expanding manhunt for the culprits.
Included in the cast is Berg regular Mark Wahlberg as Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders — a composite of several key figures — who joins other law enforcement figures in a race against time to track down the bombers before they try again, even possibly, in New York. Though Wahlberg’s sincerity gives life to this stitched-together character, we could do without his mundane speech-ifiying.
Much to Berg’s credit, he tried to give attention to one or another detail that lends insight into most of the players, from those who died, who were maimed, and who discovered the killers, or contributed to the capture of the Tsarnaev brothers; he even examines their lives as well including that of converted Muslim wife Katherine. But this film doesn’t delve that deeply into their motives or psychology; it instead focuses more on how the aftermath of the bombing impacted on the lives of everyone involved — and how they’ve survived ever since.
Without being overbearing about it, Berg’s Patriots Day serves several notions so that this a film worth viewing and talking about afterwards — especially since incidents like this one keep happening. It’s no work of profundity but the more we can analyze what happened before, the better we can get at preventing future attacks.
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