Spotlight: T Bone N Weasel

by Theatre Pro Rata at Gremlin

Charlie Gorrill


Gremlin Theatre
2400 University Ave., St. Paul
Through March 18; 612.874.9321

The plight of the starving class is front and center in Jon Klein's cutting comedy, as a pair of ex-cons drift through life in South Carolina, constantly fighting for their next meal, for their next bed, and, as often as not, with each other. Throughout the fast-paced show, our heroes face indignity upon indignity (sometimes self-created, often forced by outside injustice) in an attempt to find a purpose, or at least a decent dinner. The characters are brought to life by Theo Langason and Mark Benzel. Langason plays the brighter of the two, T Bone, whose anger is often justified by the institutional racism he finds in the modern-day South. Benzel's Weasel is the Butthead of the pair: a strange, illiterate creature who hides his pain in a cheerfulness that would make Pangloss proud. Arrayed against them are the forces of everyday society, brought to life in multiple roles by Ben Tallen, from an absurd sex-starved farmwife to a friendly-seeming country doctor trying to end poverty in his community. He does this not out of altruism but because he "hates poor people." Klein's script is sharp, piling on the absurd indignities (an early attempt at a liquor store robbery costs the pair $25) while also illustrating the real pain that both men feel. Langason especially excels in his role, splitting his time between rage and the uncertain friendship he has forged with his counterpart. Benzel's loose-limbed Weasel certainly acts as the comic focus, but his eventual understanding of the fury that fuels his friend gives the show an unexpected, and terrific, emotional heft.

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Lewis Kuhlman
Lewis Kuhlman

Mark Benzel has been written up in two other City Pages articles: "Theater Spotlight: Mojo" and "Oedipus El Rey and The 7-Shot Symphony - Reviews of the two plays". He deserves to be hyperlinked just as much as his costars.

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