A “Big Brain Anything” actually.
In this era of video game inspired cinema, Kardashian-mania, and rampant Trump tweets, any flicker of intelligence or hint of gravitas is like an ice cold soda-pop after wandering in the Sahara for a month with nothing for sustenance but sand sandwiches sans the “wiches.”
In spite of a ferociously inappropriate title, Two Motherfuckers on a Ledge is, nevertheless, a treat for those whose grey matter is still supple and functioning.
Outside the fifth-floor window of his psychiatrist’s office, Allyn (Ronn Johnstone) teeters on the building’s ledge at the edge of a psychotic breakdown and a plunge downward to oblivion.
Trying desperately to coax him back in is PhD candidate Mattie (Veronica Wylie), his shrink, who finally feels forced to take the very unFreudian step of joining him, with pronounced trepidation, outside the security of her office high above Meridian Street.
Allyn’s motivation to perch on the brink of becoming a splat on the pavement, nearly a dozen stories, below was his finding of Mattie’s dissertation on “The Pathological Narcissism of Heroism” which is based on his case; for Allyn is obsessed with the mythos of the super hero. Especially that American icon in the blue leotard – Superman.
What follows is a duel between analyst and patient, the sane and insane, the “boomer” and the “millennial,” man and woman, son and daughter, until finally their sparring strips away the last remnants of their armor leaving two fragile, wounded souls on a metropolitan brink.
The progression of this deconstruction of their personas abounds in ideas offering rifts ranging from Joseph Campbell to Nietzsche to Jerry Siegel; providing any after theatre discussion with an abundance of fodder.
“Heroes always emerge from a tragic past,” his shrink offers nervously, in hopes of drawing his focus to the core of his own conflicted world view and luring him back inside her office.
But Allyn, is no pushover. Wearing a Superman III tee shirt, the middle offering in the franchise, the “Man of Steel” has a breakdown of his own, he parries her thrust with his counter, “Heroes don’t stay where it’s safe.”
One of the strongest appeals of the super hero, is their self-imposed sepulcher of a “secret identity,” which by its very definition is fraught with loneliness and isolation. Every individual carries a secret identity of their own, sometimes a secret even to themselves.
Eventually both Allyn and Mattie unmask themselves down to their scarred humanity, a nakedness that so shames them they can’t summon the strength to gaze on one another directly, but must resort to a dialogue addressed to their reflection in the windows of the building across from them.
For every caped crusader, it is the fragments of a destroyed and lost past that emerges as their “Kryptonite,” but that very past also serves as the source of superhero-hood.
Johnstone’s insightful writing and sincere portrayal presents us with a man whose “Kryptonite” and abilities ‘far beyond those of mortal men” all arise from his surfeit of humanity.
Wylie’s utterly dazzling performance is as honest and centered as Johnstone’s, and together they are supremely well-served by director Chris Game who guides his actors over the potential pitfalls, muddled histrionics and unjustified transitions with the aplomb of Fred Astaire in his prime.
So who is a true super hero; anyone who can survive the life given them, with their humanity intact.
Despite a blatantly bad title, a PLATINUM MEDAL.
♦ ♦ ♦
Two Motherfuckers on a Ledge
is playing during Hollywood Fringe 2017 at
Asylum @ Studio C
6448 Santa Monica Blvd.
For Schedule, Tickets and Additional Information:
For more information on Ronn Johnstone and the Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project:
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