DOASKDOTELL DRAMA, MUSICAL OR PLAY REVIEW of The Velvet Sky by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa


Author:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Title:  The Velvet Sky

Where seen: Woolly Mammoth Theater, Washington DC (2006)

Director: Rebecca Bayla Taichman

Performance time: 80 min

Cast: Jeanine Serralles, Will Gartshore, Matthew Stradelmann, Margaret Little, Dawn Ursula, Michael Russotto

Recording available: No, but published by First Look Press (no ISBN given) 77 pgs, paper

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL:  treatment of minors

Review: Well, the title puts some pieces together that we’ve seen before. There was a film “Vanilla Sky”, there is a Velvet Nation nightclub in Washington DC, and there was the David Lynch film “Blue Velvet.”  This play goes into the latter category. It is a combination of horror and social commentary, with very effective stage presence (like a 3-D movie) and expressionistic music. The play opens in the simple apartment of a middle-aged bedraggled woman Bethany Palmer (Jeanine Serralles), which seems suspended in a kind of space. She is with her son Andrew (Matthew Stradelmann) and husband Warren (Will Gartshore) and has not slept for thirteen years, the life of her middle school kid. She fears that the “sandman” – a kind of vulture in the play – will sweep down and pluck out her son’s eyes and feed them to other kids.

Now loss of eyes is among the grossest kind of violence that I can imagine, but the son travels to New York and wants to explore the Big Apple on his own. He wants to go clubbing and have his own life. Soon he meets a man in a public urinal at the Port Authority who, you guessed it, plots to abuse him. But the boy always seems to stay away from all of this horror and abuse and seems able to cope with everything. The actor who plays him looks about twenty or so, and portrays a charisma that is more like that of a college student—but there are middle school kids who do cope with anything, the cream of the crop, the dean’s list and honor roll. (Actually, the character resembles Oscar in the small film “Tadpole”). So ultimately he comes to no harm.

We can, of course, debate the subject matter—but it’s actual execution is artistic and seems much less threatening to the characters (despite some horrific ideas mentioned by Bethany) than it would be in real life.

Yes, it’s easy to imagine the movie.  Some of the author’s other plays are The Muckle Man and Dark Matters, and the autobiographical Based on a Totally True Story.  

Related reviews: Movies: Vanilla Sky, Blue Velvet


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