Bank Job

June 6, 2017

in Plays

by John Kolvenbach

A New England Premiere
Directed by Robert Walsh

Gloucester Stage Company
Gloucester, MA
May 19 – June 10, 2017

Set Design: John Savage; Lighting Design: Russ Swift

With Paul Melendy (Russell), Nael Nacer (Tracey), Shuyi Jia (Jill), Johnny Lee Davenport (Dale), Richard McElvain (Francis)

ael Nacer as Tracey, Paul Melendy as Russell in 'Bank Job'

Nael Nacer as Tracey
Paul Melendy as Russell
in “Bank Job”
Photo: Gary Ng
Courtesy of Gloucester Stage Company

An intricate farce involving a misconceived bank heist and foils and expectations by children and other relations.

The misalignments occur from the outset as Russell (Paul Melendy) and Tracey (Nael Nacer), a pair of brothers up to no good, rush into a washroom in disguise, barely avoiding running into Jill (Shuyi Jia), a bank teller who has just barely dodged their dastardly act.

Carefully timed avoidances enable her to scamper around while they take off their disguises and try to break out of the window of the washroom. But, lo and behold, the window is not really a window and they don’t get away as expected. Dale (Johnny Lee Davenport), a police officer, turns up on the scene and what one expects might be a simple case of justice pursued turns into a more complex dialectic.

Finally, add to the mix a hostage, Francis (Michard McElvain), who bears an intimate and complex relationship to the whole endeavor, and one gets an intricate knot of entanglements that create more than a touch of narrative complexity.

This ambitiously contrived amalgam of plot twists yields enough demand for one’s attention to at times keep things interesting and hopping and at others to be confounding. A whimsical farce, on the one hand, and an existentially comedic family study on the other, the play is by turns purely silly and somewhat poignant.

The final turn is a kind of plot pirouette, a shoot-the-moon moment that is entirely unexpected and does not make a great deal of sense. But, in the context of this intricate array of turns and derailments, it makes as much sense as anything else.

It is always a pleasure to watch great actors like Nael Nacer and Johnny Lee Davenport do their thing. Nacer’s range is always stunning, and here he gets to play a more rough and tumble type than he usually does. Davenport, as a cop with a greater talent for abstruse ethical consideration than one might expect, brings his warmly wry and commandeering sensibility into the mix.

As the hostage and the mystery guest of sorts, Richard McElvain adds a particularly touching dimension, one that offers not only the abstractions of institutional authority, but the considerations of an intimate sensibility.

This is light theater, with a touch of touchingness added to it. Its narrative ambitions are a little too frenetically ingrown to ultimately be comprehensible, but its misalignments and unexpected traversals provide a good time nonetheless.

– BADMan

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