By Marcina Zaccaria
Named for a vintage quote by Elvis Costello, “Revenge and Guilt” is a new kind of cautionary tale: be careful what you wish for because you might not be able to forget it.
The new play by Marc Spitz features the most vindictive values you can find downtown. As the characters question ideas from song lyrics like who is man in the face of God, they are punk and problematic in all the worst ways.
Tom Vaught, as Marvin “Major” Cohen plays a guitar hero and former music teacher, and is believable as the folk star he always dreamed he was. The love story between Cal Arbus (Peter Buck Dettmann) and Gina Sharp (Emily Russell) becomes quite labored as a young couple takes all their aggression and rage to an apartment of someone they once knew.
The writing by Spitz is more a valentine to the guitar culture that these folks worship rather than a credible story about real people. The total ensemble acting was a bit uneven, and there wasn’t enough content in the play to maintain interest in the motivations of Cal and Gina. The overall performance values read as full of bravado and without a soul.
Design and production values are quite strong, though. The set design by Andrew Diaz was authentic. A polyester sofa and a back wall with wood paneling bring us back to a room where shiny, black guitars and old LPs rule the roost. In a corner, white, black, and grey posters are slapped together on a wall, honoring The Lower East Side. The entire look was complete and textured. Costume design by Niki Kanodia featured riot girl gear, including safety pins and boots made for walking.
Although I appreciated the long monologues with references to Elvis Costello songs, I think this one has a long way to go.
“Revenge and Guilt” is playing at the Kraine Theater at 85 East 4th Street until October 19th. Tickets are available by calling www.rgtix.com.