×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Golf With Alan Shepard

If the two main protagonists from Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" were transported to a suburban golf course in Ohio and you added two more characters just like them, they could very well be the quartet of life-challenged curmudgeons that populate scripter Carter W. Lewis' tale "Golf With Alan Shepard."

With:
Griff - Jack Klugman Milt - Paul Dooley Ned - Charles Durning Larkin - Granville Van Dusen Astronaut - Daniel Waskom

If the two main protagonists from Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” Vladimir and Estragon, were transported to a suburban golf course in Ohio and you added two more characters just like them, they could very well be the quartet of life-challenged curmudgeons that populate scripter Carter W. Lewis’ comical if underdeveloped tale “Golf With Alan Shepard.” Lewis and helmer Skip Greer run out of thematic ideas very early in this tale of four elderly gents “searching for the meaning of their lives and the location of their tee shots,” leaving this endearing, sumptuously talented ensemble to fend for themselves.

It is almost enough to watch Jack Klugman, Charles Durning, Paul Dooley and voiceover whiz Granville Van Dusen (Race Bannon in “Johnny Quest”) having at each other; ultimately, however, they are left with the task of investing their talents into four memorable characters waiting for a play to happen.

Lewis likens the dysfunction of these four to the golf ball that Alan Shepard hit on the surface of the moon. Everyone saw it take flight but no one knows where it landed or if it ever did. It is the incompleteness of their lives that torments each of the four golfers who’ve been playing together weekly for years. Nearing their final stages, each is reaching the desperation stage in an effort to find some tangible meaning to the years spent on earth. Having no other outlet for their frustrations, they beat on each other.

Griff (Klugman), 83, is a walking ambulance case who can’t even see his ball once he hits it. Hilariously pugnacious and misanthropic to his core, Griff desperately want to win at all costs and resents having to team up with his deceased former partner Kenny’s brother Milt (Dooley).

Underplaying perfectly to counterbalance Klugman, Dooley’s gentler-spirited Milt has harbored a lifelong resentment that his brother always favored Griff over him, mostly because Griff saved Kenny’s life during WWII — a fact Griff brings up at every opportunity.

The competing duo of Ned (Durning) and Larkin (Van Dusen) have some issues of their own. Durning’s Ned is a heartbreakingly fragile widower whose sorrow at the death of his wife is beginning to overwhelm him. Van Dusen invests a lot of energy and spirit into the complex persona of Larkin, a Zenlike defrocked priest who was kicked out of the church for having sex with a 19-year-old drifter who subsequently stole his car. He also happens to be the best golfer of the four.

Given the intriguing nature of each character, it would have been nice if Lewis had actually developed a viable plot for them to follow. Instead, these four simply pass the time, keeping up a constant barrage of barbed quips that usually hit their mark. Griff and Larkin are particularly vitriolic and comical in their disdain for one another.

There is some added nonsense about Griff’s unrelenting fury at the white-clad tennis players who have been allowed into the club and Ned’s sudden, mysterious ability to get the ball in the hole. Lewis has also thrown in a perplexing surrealistic ending that includes a helmeted astronaut (Daniel Waskom) with a golf club searching for his moon shot. This neither amplifies nor clarifies the doings that have preceded it.

If Klugman, Dooley, Durning and Van Dusen would simply sit onstage and expound for two hours, the audience would probably have a better understanding of the meaning of life.

At least the premise is workable, aided greatly by Keith E. Mitchell’s impressively executed golf course setting.

Popular on Variety

Golf With Alan Shepard

Falcon Playhouse, Los Angeles; 99 seats; $37.50 top

Production: A Falcon Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Carter W. Lewis. Directed by Skip Greer.

Crew: Sets, Keith E. Mitchell; lights, Leigh Allen; costumes, Denitsa Bliznakova; sound, Robert Arturo Ramirez. Opened, reviewed Sept. 24, 2004; closes Oct. 10. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Griff - Jack Klugman Milt - Paul Dooley Ned - Charles Durning Larkin - Granville Van Dusen Astronaut - Daniel Waskom

More Scene

  • DOLEMITE IS MY NAME!, 2019, DOL_Unit_06284.RAF

    'Dolemite Is My Name' Writer Larry Karaszewski Recalls 10-Year Journey to Make Rudy Ray Moore Biopic

    “Harriet” writer-director Kasi Lemmons was in a reflective mood at Tuesday night’s “Behind the Scene” event at the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America West. The biopic, starring Cynthia Erivo as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been receiving buzz since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s Lemmons’ [...]

  • Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

    Holocaust Experts Debate 'Jojo Rabbit' at Museum of Tolerance Screening

    With its comedic, cartoonish portrayal of Nazis, Taika Waititi’s satirical Hitler youth tale “Jojo Rabbit” has polarized critics and audiences alike. And that division continued to be stirred at Tuesday night’s screening of the film at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where Liebe Geft, director of the museum, moderated a heated panel discussion [...]

  • Laura Dern MoMA

    Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver Honor Laura Dern at MoMA Film Benefit

    Laura Dern is certainly no stranger to film sets. “Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd birthed me and bred me on cinema,” she said on Tuesday night in New York City, as she accepted honors at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Film Benefit, presented by Chanel. “I was conceived on a Roger Corman movie called [...]

  • Jon Huerta

    'This Is Us' Star Jon Huertas Builds Community With Venice's Clutch Restaurant

    “This Is Us” star Jon Huertas, who’s being honored at the Napa Valley Film Festival with Variety Vivant’s Spice Award Nov. 13, has always known he wanted a career in Hollywood. But he’s something of an accidental restaurateur. No, he didn’t exactly stumble into co-owning Clutch, one of the hottest upscale casual restaurants in Venice, [...]

  • John Legend LVE Wine

    Celebrities Take Hands-On Approach to Making Fine Wines

    Care to sip champagne backed by Jay Z or 50 Cent? Or mellow out with a fine Chianti from Sting and Trudie Styler? Behind every wine label is an incredibly expensive team effort of surprising proportions. Wine lovers may consider making their own as the ultimate dream; however, few can afford the buy-in. Vineyards are [...]

  • St. Clair Brown, Mad Fritz lead

    Craft Beer Thrives in the Heart of Napa Wine Country

    Napa Valley has long been devoted to the products of the grape, but the region actually played a pivotal role in getting the craft beer revolution off the ground. New Albion Brewing launched the microbrewery trend in adjacent Sonoma County in 1976, inspiring a wave of delicious and potent alternatives to pale industrial beer. There’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content