Clifford Chase's Winkie

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    March 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall
    (14 Mar 2011)

    Godlight Theater Company. I am crazy for these people, and they should put more information about themselves in the program. Ahem.

    This is ensemble work that is fine. All the actors are onstage the entire evening. As in they are onstage when you enter the theatre. They fly without a net, they swing from the rafters, they dive into the air and trust that another member of the company will be there to make the catch. The trust pays off.

    What I didn’t like was the story they told. And that is simply a matter of personal taste. You might love it.

    Here’s the deal: Winkie, a stuffed bear tired of being alone in his last owner’s former bedroom, breaks loose. To do that he has to first become sentient, which is something of a miracle. This done, he heads for the woods where he finds shelter in a cabin that belongs to someone along the lines of the Uni-Bomber. Some time later, Winkie is arrested for terrorism and is charge with over 9,000 counts of crime. He is betrayed, tortured and convicted. Anyone who tries to help him will suffer the same fate.

    This fine production is based on the book of the same name by Clifford Chase. The tale is told with precision, humor and pathos. But for me, it hits too close to home, because I am one of those people who believes that this sort of thing is still going on. As a quick for instance Private 1st Class Bradley Manning, who was the accomplish for the Wiki leak scandal, is being held in solitary confinement at a Marine Corps base in Virginia with over 22 charges against him. At night he is forced to strip and is hosed down.

    So to watch this process being made into comedy – albeit a good one – hits a little close to the bone for me. However, the audience loved this show.

    As I said – acting wise this show is beyond splendid. The direction is compact and clear. To watch this cast is to watch fine actors show you that there are no small stages. In the intimate Theatre C at 59E59 Godlight Theatre creates an entire universe. Well done.

    So while I can’t recommend the story (I didn’t like the film No Country for Old Men either)I can sure recommend this production.

    And PS – the tiniest character needs a curtain call. Director take note.

    (Tulis McCall)

    What the popular press said...

    "A simplistic comedy sketch: wafer-thin, one-note and stretched to a bludgeoning 90 minutes."
    David Rooney for NY Times

    "There are enough laughs here to make the evening worthwhile."
    Frank Scheck for NY Post

    "I wanted more-cogent plotting, less-repetitive dialogue, and a likelier hero than someone made of mohair, excelsior, and button eyes."
    Marc Miller for Back Stage

    New York Times - New York Post - Back Stage