John Stoltenberg: A Behanding in Spokane

Behanding-14-Edit…I had to check out the new production of [Martin] McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane at the Keegan Theatre. And what a delightfully demented headtrip it was.

The story is loony. It really is about a long-ago dismembered hand and its owner’s twisted quest to find it. Yeah, I know: What could be funny about that? Well, trust McDonagh to make it so.

We meet Carmichael [Mark A. Rhea] in a seedy dump of a hotel room where he has come to rendezvous with a couple scammers who have led him to believe they can sell him his old hand. They are a hysterical twosome, excellently performed: Toby (played by Manu Kumasi), a young black man given comedically to intermittent weeping, and his white girlfriend, Marilyn (Laura Herren), the least unhinged character in the play and, in a way, its earnest reference point for logic as all bizarreness breaks loose.

But for my money the most memorable character in this production turned out to be Mervyn, the hapless hotel desk clerk. Mervyn has a monologue that on paper has some of  Behanding’s funniest writing, but as performed by Bradley Foster Smith, it became a showstopper. May I suggest that McDonagh meet Smith someday and write for him some more?

If you’ve never before seen anything by McDonagh, a word of advice: Leave all your expectations at home. Just catch this show at Keegan.

Read the Full Review at John Stoltenberg’s Blog