Sunday, July 19, 2009


One can only extend the benefit of the doubt so far. We start out hoping for the best of Pre-Disposal, that there's a reason why two small-time dealers, the energetic Rob X (Paul Pryce) and his gruff associate George (DK Bowser), are shooting the breeze on a ripped-out car seat in the middle of Bed-Stuy if they really owe $15,000 on a lost shipment. And we assume that Rob D (Joe Mullen) can't possibly be the naive Williamsburg hipster he appears to be, that he must in fact have some reason for getting sucked into X's aimless spiel, what turns out be a convenient pitch for a TV miniseries about life on the "streets." Something Must Be Up, given all the ominous phone calls D keeps ignoring, and the whispers George keeps passing X's way.

Not so. John Prescod isn't a playwright so much as he is a filibusterer; he's bluffing his way through the first act, hoping that the slinging of enough street-slang will somehow take on Substance and Significance. Director Joshua Luria covers this up for as long as he can, but when they're forced to show their hand in the second act--X is not only a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, but he was involved in the attack! Elyse (Deborah Green), a very obvious plant (naive, clumsy white girl with a baby carriage in Tompkins Park after dark) is actually some sort of agent sent to watch X! D isn't actually a film student at all, but a con artist looking for a way out!--suffice to say the whole house of cards collapses so completely that there aren't even any cards left.

It's not just the script that falls apart, either. Eric Alba and Joshua Luria establish a nice set for the first act, with very up-to-date graffiti (RIP MJ) on the burnt out wood walls of a squat house, and there's trash everywhere but the garbage can. However, in the second act, a park bench is joined by a table that's actually a bureau, as well as two ornate wooden chairs (hell, I'd have stolen those). More incongruous are the shifts in lighting, which occur mid-sentence, not to mention the flat-out awful fight choreography from Montgomery Sutton--it's bad enough they're using a rubber plank, but to see the otherwise menacing Bowser having to swing it "like a girl" is just flat-out embarrassing. The only thing that acts the way it should is Amanda Jenks's basic costuming: it's the only thing you might actually see in the real world.

As for the acting, the problem is that you can tell it's acting. Bowser and Pryce posture far more than their real-world counterparts would need to, and though Pryce is rather good storyteller--charismatic and engaging--he's no Rumpelstiltskin: the straw lines he's given remain just that. D constantly presses X to find a hook to his narrative, to find something new, as the sad truth is that seeing a man's head blown off by a point-blank sawed-off shotgun is old school. When X provides him with that original twist (the 9/11 crap), D realizes that he's being fucked with, and gouges X's eye out. Good thing the audience isn't as violent as D, considering that X's story is Prescod's story; Pre-Disposal is the sort of awful play you wish you could punish.

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