You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati

This enigmatic, comic filmed monologue rests on the considerable, if offbeat, charisma of vet playwright Alan Williams, who condensed the script from his successful series of one-person shows known as "The Cockroach Trilogy."

This enigmatic, comic filmed monologue rests on the considerable, if offbeat, charisma of vet playwright Alan Williams, who condensed the script from his successful series of one-person shows known as “The Cockroach Trilogy.”

The pic could click with savvy downtown types. Problem is how to pull them into the arthouse: Knowledge of its legit origins will ruin surprise, while ignorance of them makes pic hard to describe.

For the first 15 minutes or so of this plain-looking, low-budget pic which follow an earnest filmmaking couple in search of a likely docu subject non-initiates may wonder if it’s ever going to settle down.

But people who’ve seen the one-man plays, which toured the U.K. and Canada for more than a decade, will guess that the rambling tale eventually turns into a manic rant for the bearded, hot-eyed writer and comic, who’s now a mainstay of Toronto’s theater scene.

The pic set in rusty Windsor, Ontario, for extra grit moves inexorably into the author’s eclectically sardonic worldview. To him, virtually everything is “crap,” except for certain kinds of music and some odd, obsessive memories of the late ’60s in Britain.

Williams doubles as actor, playing a character known only as “The Captain” (after a particularly lame superhero he invented in childhood); he spins convoluted, highly detailed stories that almost always connect with other tales, no matter how abstruse.

“The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati” eventually spoofs the Spalding Gray school of performance art by sitting its star at a desk, complete with lamp and lame slides. He chafes noisily, and hilariously, at this confinement, eventually breaking free for some confidential asides to the roving camera.

Helmer Michael McNamara, best known for his Holly Cole and Jane Siberry tube specials, mixes different film stocks to entertaining effect, and even manages to incorporate some commentary on the difficulties of transferring oral art to the bigscreen (the Captain has a stack of videotaped “ideas,” even though he owns no TV).

There’s even a nice payoff for the main character that never would have worked onstage.

Kurt Swinghammer’s hip music is a definite plus.

By the way, script mentions no insects, nor any cities in Ohio.

The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati


Production: A Queen West Prods. (Toronto) production. Produced by Michael McNamara. Co-producers, Judy Holm, James Weyman. Directed, edited by Michael McNamara. Screenplay by Alan Williams, based on his plays "The Cockroach Trilogy."

Crew: Camera, Patrick Lobzun; music, Kurt Swinghammer; production design, Christopher McNamara; sound, John Koester, John Thomson; Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 7, 1996. (Also in Vancouver fest.) Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Alan Williams, Deborah Drakeford, Oliver Dennis.

More Film

  • I Lost My Body

    French Animation 'I Lost My Body' Tops Cannes Critics' Week Winners

    “I Lost My Body,” a dark French animated film from writer-director Jérémy Clapin, has come up trumps in this year’s Critics’ Week program at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the strand’s top honor, the Nespresso Grand Prize. The film, which follows a young man’s severed hand as it struggles to be reunited with its own, [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

  • Forest Whitaker

    Netflix Teams With Forest Whitaker on 'Hello, Universe' Movie

    Netflix and Forest Whitaker are collaborating on live-action family movie “Hello, Universe,” based on the 2018 Newbery Award winner and New York Times bestselling novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. Playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco (“Always Be My Maybe”) will adapt the book. Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station”) of Significant Productions will produce. The [...]

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

    Film and TV Productions Are Using Drones for Scouting Locations, Lighting and More

    Since a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 that cleared the use of drones in film and TV production, the acquisition of footage by these unmanned flying machines has become de rigueur for aerial shooting in cases when cranes or aircraft are impractical or unsafe.  As such, drones have been greeted enthusiastically not [...]

  • Filmmaker Maryam Touzani Talks About Her

    Filmmaker Maryam Touzani Talks About Her Cannes Debut, 'Adam'

    Debuting feature helmer-writer Maryam Touzani makes her Cannes bow with “Adam,” in Un Certain Regard. The Casablanca-set drama shows how a pregnant stranger changes the lives of a mother and her young daughter. What inspired your plot? When I moved back to Tangier after college, one day a young woman knocked on our door, looking [...]

  • Q&A With Juan Villegas on ‘Las

    Argentina’s Juan Villegas on ‘Las Vegas,’ Featuring at Cannes’ ACID

    CANNES – Buenos Aires’ director-producer Juan Villegas presented his debut “Saturday” at the Venice Festival and won awards at the Rotterdam and Sarajevo film festivals. “Suicidals” screened at San Sebastián. “Idleness,” his third feature, co-directed with Alejando Lingenti, screened at the Berinale. Produced by Salvador del Solar at Argentina’s Cepa Audiovisual and by Villegas’ production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content