Human Scratchings

Better known for their TV credits, Edelstein and Geary collaborated years ago on NBC's "Bright Promise," serving as head writer and series regular, respectively, prior to Geary's turn as Luke Spencer in ABC's "General Hospital." Edelstein has tailor-made this stage outing, though a bit long and repetitive, to Geary's talents, allowing the actor to roam freely within this nameless man's psyche, as well as portraying a wide range of other personalities who move in and out of the main character's life.

With:
Cast: Anthony Geary (The Man). Rick Edelstein has created a contemporary Everyman (Anthony Geary) who thinks of life as endless cement and likens our time on earth to nothing more than human scratchings on the sidewalk. In a multifaceted, virtuoso performance, Geary guides the audience into the mind of this emotional cripple -- from his abused childhood to the tragedy that sets him off as a gun-wielding, scripture-spouting vigilante, determined to eradicate the evildoers in our society.

Better known for their TV credits, Edelstein and Geary collaborated years ago on NBC’s “Bright Promise,” serving as head writer and series regular, respectively, prior to Geary’s turn as Luke Spencer in ABC’s “General Hospital.” Edelstein has tailor-made this stage outing, though a bit long and repetitive, to Geary’s talents, allowing the actor to roam freely within this nameless man’s psyche, as well as portraying a wide range of other personalities who move in and out of the main character’s life.

Geary creates a fascinating and complex serial killer. Not very bright, and plain in his speech, Geary’s central character is a gentle man who shyly recalls his life with a mean-spirited father and ineffectual mother who alternately beat and coerced him into memorizing passages of scripture and one new vocabulary word each day. As an adult, this man’s tenuous hold on reality is nurtured and strengthened by the great love he holds for his wife, Sarah. When Sarah dies because of the negligence of an emergency room physician, the raging beast hidden in this man’s soul explodes upon the world.

TX: TX:Windbourne Prods. presents a play in two acts written and directed by Rick Edelstein. Producer, Candice Trier Bond; Discarding his former life, the Man opens a shoeshine stand in Washington that allows him to observe the passing parade of life’s foibles anonymously. Segueing back and forth in his characterizations, Geary offers a menagerie of colorful government folk, as well as personifying his victims (the careless physician, a bigoted bum, an unrepentant Wall Street embezzler and a hypocritical televangelist with a penchant for transvestites). Unfortunately, Edelstein and Geary are too self-indulgent with these side-trip personalities, lessening the effect of the central character’s journey though madness to eventual self-redemption.

Two profound contributors to the evening are designers Kathi O’Donohoe (lighting) and Jon Gottlieb (sound). As the play progresses, the pair translate the inner workings of the character’s mind in a searing display of light and sound. This is especially true as the self-styled vigilante rouses himself to execute a victim, bathed in a blood-red glow and accompanied by an ominous machine gun-like chanting that dissipates as soon as the deed is done.

Human Scratchings

Production: Human Scratchings (The Court Theatre; 99 seats; $ 20 top)

Crew: Lighting, Kathi O'Donohoe; sound, Jon Gottlieb. Opened April 25, 1996; reviewed May 11; runs through June 2. Running time: 2 hours, 10 min.

With: Cast: Anthony Geary (The Man). Rick Edelstein has created a contemporary Everyman (Anthony Geary) who thinks of life as endless cement and likens our time on earth to nothing more than human scratchings on the sidewalk. In a multifaceted, virtuoso performance, Geary guides the audience into the mind of this emotional cripple -- from his abused childhood to the tragedy that sets him off as a gun-wielding, scripture-spouting vigilante, determined to eradicate the evildoers in our society.

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