Review: ‘Hellcab’

TX: Six actors (Tara Chocol, April Grace, Andrew Hawkes, Reggie Hayes, Loren Lazerine and Laura Kellogg Sandberg) play a variety of roles in 22 scenes.

TX: Six actors (Tara Chocol, April Grace, Andrew Hawkes, Reggie Hayes, Loren Lazerine and Laura Kellogg Sandberg) play a variety of roles in 22 scenes.

It starts with a religious couple who try to convert the driver as he takes them to their church, the Pillar of Fire.

In quick succession come a stoned couple, the owner of a chain of delis with his mistress and a young woman who picks up her violent-tempered boyfriend on the rough side of the city.

While all the scenes engage, there are a few highlights, including a woman in labor (Grace) who’s screaming a variety of hilarious expressions at her husband (Hayes), including, “I’m in pain, and it’s all your fault!”

Most gripping scene comes when a passenger (Hawkes) won’t give the cab driver an exact address, and takes him deep into the dark side of town.

Director Jennifer Markowitz is able to give a sense of urgency to the proceedings, creating action that lends a sense of people’s hopes and fears not evoked in the text.

Playwright Kern purposely does not give the cabbie a past or a future, let alone a name.

He just is. This driver picks up everyone and does what he’s told, though he does lash out when touched or provoked.

In the role, Dillon may appear dangerous, but he’s a gentle man. The cast is as expressive as Dillon, and they create new characters so thoroughly that it seems there’s a cast of 30.

Robert G. Smith’s roofless cab and his stark set design, in combination with Rick Peeple’s sound design and Peter Edward’s pools-of-light lighting, vividly create a cabbie roving a tough, somber city — a fabulous contrast to the irony and humor that come out.

Hellcab

(Tamarind Theatre, Hollywood; 84 seats; $ 15 top)

Production

Bang Bang in association with the Tamarind Theatre presents a comedy in one act by Will Kern; director, Jennifer Markowitz; associate producers, Suzanne DeWalt, Tom Kendall.

Creative

Sets, Robert G. Smith; lighting, Peter Edwards; sound design, Rick Peeples. Opened Dec. 1, 1995; reviewed Dec. 9; runs through Jan. 7. Running time: 70 min.

Cast

Cast: Paul Dillon, Tara Chocol, April Grace, Andrew Hawkes, Reggie Hayes, Loren Lazerine, Laura Kellogg Sandberg. Will Kern's "Hellcab," which premiered in Chicago and promises to do well here, has a cab driver (Paul Dillon) pick up a series of passengers over the course of a day near Christmas in Chicago. There's no story, per se, and the structure does not bring deep resonance, but it's an entertaining glimpse at how a man is shaped by the microcosm of society he meets.
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