NY Theater Review By Myra Chanin
By now everyone with a scintilla of culture – certainly anyone who listens to NPR radio – knows that David Holthouse was violently raped when he was seven by a 17-year-old jock, the star athlete/wrestler/quarterback son of family friends, who, until that event, David considered supercool. Afterwards the rapist convinced the boy that if David told anyone, “he’d come to my house in the middle of the night and gut me like a salmon.” In addition, for years afterwards, when David couldn’t avoid being alone with him, “he would cup his crotch in his hands and give me a smile that said, ‘I got some more of this for your punk little eight, nine-, ten-year-old ass.’”
Despite his fears and anxieties, David (played by Roderick Hill) prospered. He grew up, made a name for himself as a gonzo journalist for alternative publications, won awards, moved to Colorado and met and wrote about interesting and unusual people. The Bogeyman fared less well. He lived with his parents, sold cheap suits at Harry’s of Hong Kong in Alaska. When David met him there, David realized he was 6 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than the Bogeyman. David also realized he wanted to kill him, but didn’t want his own parents’ memories of their son tarnished with the Bogeyman’s scum.
David never repressed the memories. Despite telling his therapist, these memories festered and David became obsessed with ramifications of the rape. His research indicated that victims of pedophilia often become pedophiles themselves, He worried about what he might do. He also learned that the mean number of victims per perp was 184 and David felt his silence might be responsible for their pain.
Twenty-five years later, when his mother told him the Bogeyman had moved to Denver, Colorado with his family, David bought an unmarked gun and consciously began planning the murder. No one would ever consider him a suspect. As far as anyone knew, David had no motive for killing the Bogeyman.
Then fate intervened. David’s parents found his old diary and read an account of the rape. When they questioned David about it, he told them the truth, they called the Bogeyman’s parents and the murder plan was no longer feasible. If the Bogeyman was murdered, two sets of parents would know David’s connection and motive.
David did something else. I won’t tell because I’m reluctant to be the spoiler, but the last few minutes of the play pack a wallop that’s very troubling. They don’t completely convince David of the Bogeyman’s intentions or remorse, nor did they convince my husband. Even a Pollyanna like me was left with unanswered questions.
The rapist was drinking on the night of the rape, but this is not mentioned again. Could the liquor have released the evil in him?
David created an interesting life for himself, despite his emotional burdens. Could he have done better if it had never happened, or would he have become an ordinary doctor, lawyer, accountant – no slur intended.
Why did he nurture and hold on to that secret for so long? What need did it fulfill in him.
Why didn’t he go to a more dynamic therapist? He might have done better with a down-to-earth male.
What I really carried home with me was the brilliant quality of the intense performances. Wow! Everyone was real and convincing, but the knockout was Eric Heger, the Bogeyman, who, after he persuaded me of his character’s evil in the first half, was equally convincing in portraying his real or fake remorse.
*Photos: Jeremy Daniels
Stalking the Bogeyman adapted and directed by Markus Potter
New World Stages 340 W. 50th St. New York, NY 10019