Giving the Devil his due
Blue Room’s production of comedy DarkFall offers Lucifer a chance to plead his case
“I’m a victim of bad PR,” the character Luke complains at one point in David Davalos’ thinly veiled allegorical comedy, DarkFall. “Luke” is, as it turns out, actually “Lucifer,” and the “first light” gets to plead his case during the course of the play. Currently staged at the Blue Room Theatre, the show, actor Paul Stout’s directorial “debut” for this venue, features some strong performances, a good set, and a very funny script with more pop-cultural references and rhyming couplets than you could shake a TV remote at.
It’s Dec. 31, 2000, the eve of a new millennium. We look in on the New York City apartment of Ike (played by DNA), a kind of post-grunge intellectual, busy railing at the congested traffic creating noise outside his window.
“My God, Nova,” he shouts, “it’s a city of apes!”
His patient girlfriend Sayza (JessLeanne Perry) wants to head downtown for the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square; Ike, once he’s finished his hilarious rant, would rather they stay in. Both their plans are squashed when a mysterious old man (we never see this character) takes a tumble in the hallway while attempting to change a light bulb.
Out of nowhere, two paramedics show up and cart the old boy off to Mt. Sinai (of course). From there, we are soon introduced to the play’s actual main characters. In the old man’s hospital room, we meet Rae (Marisa Marko), Mike (Quentin Colgan) and Gabby (James Carey), respectively the old guy’s doctor, security captain and lawyer. We find out that the patient was the head of some big corporation and that his sons have been vying for control. Well, one has, anyway—Luke (Joe Hilsee). The other one, Josh (Evan Allen), has disappeared, and everybody has been awaiting his return for some time.
However, there is a snag in things—in his will, the old man has selected Luke as his heir should Josh not show up.
As you can see, this is mighty thin allegory. And it would probably become irritating very quickly were it not for the author’s hilarious writing and the cast’s generally energetic performances.
DNA is quite funny as malcontent Ike. He slings those pointed cultural references with comedic gusto. JessLeanne Perry exudes a necessary calm as Ike’s girlfriend Sayza, providing an eye to the general hurricane. She also gets some very funny moments during exchanges with Ike, regularly matching his pop references.
In the hospital, Marko, Colgan and Carey portray probably the thinnest characters in the show. Plot-wise, they are there mainly to offer opposition to Luke’s potential ascension to power, and the actors do well with what they’re given. As near as this writer can reckon, Rae is supposed to be Archangel Azrael, Mike is Michael, and Gabby, of course, is Gabriel (he’s the old man’s “mouthpiece").
However, the best performances are Hilsee’s and Allen’s. As Luke, Hilsee gives one of his strongest performances in a while. He brings a lot of energy to the role—pacing purposely, enlisting the assistance of audience members, and delivering his lines with perfect comedic timing. As Josh, the “Christ” figure here, Ethan Allen is appropriately the opposite of Hilsee. Allen renders Josh easygoing, relaxed, good-humored. His body language reflects these attributes, and at first his character doesn’t seem as strong as Hilsee’s. That, of course, is far from the case.
The set was minimal—two risers of different heights, a kind of bunk bed stage left, and a starry nebula painted across the back wall—suiting the comically cosmic themes. Lighting was very effective, as was sound. Stout has assembled a very good show.