Room 17B

  • Date:
    January 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall
    (20 Jan 2010)

    These are four foolish men being foolish. Not stupid. Foolish! Foolish requires skill, which all of these men have in abundance. In addition to that they have humor, style and a healthy appreciation of the absurd.

    The PR blurb for this tells us that these four men work in an office of which room 17B is a repository of sorts.

    Room 17B is chock-a-block full of file drawers. I did not count them, as I counted the shelves and bookcases in La Bête, because I was in no danger of going mad, because I was completely entertained almost the entire 65 or so minutes.

    There is something European about Parallel Exit’s style. It is uncluttered, uses minimal text (only one member of the group speaks), and relies on our sense of mischief and play to make the evening complete. Yes, there is audience participation, but it is not the kind where they sweep you out of your seat only to embarrass you. These men are intent on having a relationship with their viewers. They engage us and are engaged themselves. Without us, they would be nothing. The know it, and they make certain we do as well.

    There are several chapters – don’t know what else to call them – in this piece, which in and of themselves do not appear to be connected. They do reveal each man’s persona but not his place in the story because there isn’t one. There are power struggles and intimate moments, my favorite was the pigeon at lunch, but there are no dots that connect. Each is a compact life slice and most require no embellishment whatsoever. They are perfect tasty morsels.

    This omission of a story line that is presented in the PR material is not a major disappointment, but if one was truly intended then it is back to the drawing boards.

    What was promised and not delivered on was a larger sense of adventure. The opening few scenes are hilarious and intelligent. They promised of more to come, but the rest of the evening didn’t quite live up to that promise. Make no mistake – this is not bland material. But with all that talent and creativity on the stage I was expecting this group to stretch the envelope more than they did.

    I look forward to seeing them do just that in the future. Come on, men! Take foolish and finesse to a level that surprises even you.

    I know you can do it. I dare you.

    (Tulis McCall)