×

No Good Deed

The public and the media's well-documented propensity for raising up real-life heroes gets a vigorous if campy going-over in "No Good Deed."

With:
Josh Jaxon Nick Cernoch

The public and the media’s well-documented propensity for raising up real-life heroes, and then just as devotedly uncovering feet of clay, gets a vigorous if campy going-over in “No Good Deed,” the latest explosion of the Furious Theater Company. Matt Pelfrey’s text is smug and unfocused, but helmer Damaso Rodriguez and associates haven’t stinted on the presentation: part drug fantasia, part graphic novel, all in your face.

 

Pelfrey picks a peck of Peter Parker in protagonist Josh Jaxon (Nick Cernoch). Like the future Spider-Man, geeky Josh is bullied and outcast, his raging hormones fixated on high school diva Danielle (Katie Marie Davies). In short, there’s textbook fertilizer for a superhero-to-be.

 

He’s also a burgeoning comic-book artist, whose gift is excitingly reflected by Jason H. Thompson’s manga-influenced projections of heightened reality, as imagined by graphic artist Ben Matsuya against John Iacovelli’s festering rear-wall panels.

 

Alas, unlike wholesome Parker who’s doted on by loving aunt and uncle, our Josh is saddled with a trashy Maw (Johanna McKay) and abusive stepfather (Robert Pescovitz) with whom he shares an increasing appetite for prescription meds. Happening upon a slobbering derelict’s harrowing attack on Danielle, he beats the bum to death with a lead pipe to become a national hero. (This is allegedly based on a real-life incident but elicits mostly skepticism as played out here.)

 

Pelfrey weaves in a pair of authentic champs — infant-rescuing firefighter Bryant (Shawn Lee) and bomb-alerting security guard Dan (Troy Metcalf), the latter libelously close to Atlanta Olympics whistle-blower Richard Jewell — for a heavy-handed, simplistic dramatization of how the media exploit the just. Smirking tabloid paparazzi keep popping out to jack up suspicion (Bryant a polygamist? Dan a mama-fixated tool?) between frivolous teasers (“Do zebras provide your child’s lunch meat? Film at 11”). Despite smart caricatures of Jay Leno (fight choreographer Brian Danner) and David Letterman (Pescovitz) it’s all obvious, unvarying and unfunny to the max.

 

Happy dust and despair turn Josh into “Hellbound Hero” to team up with angry Bryant and Dan as a sort of Justice-Denied League of America. The themes really implode then, but at least fun breaks out. Danner’s propulsive melees postpone any fretting over Pelfrey’s inchoate indictments in act one and beyond.

 

Cernoch credibly captures raw youth, and the dimensions he finds in his underwritten role are quite remarkable. But he and his fellow victims of celebrity are too much the fatally flawed caricature to engage real sympathy. The fine Lee could benefit from less bluster and a little more simple innocence, while Metcalf gives his hero more respect than America did, certainly more than the play does even though Pelfrey has actually dedicated it to Jewell.

 

Satire, as the saying goes, closes on Saturday night; and that’s because it’s so rarely pointed or thought through. Here, the QED of heroes-as-scapegoats is undercut by the play’s insistence on pinning dishonor on them for the sake of easy, cynical laughs. Despite the obvious care in staging, Pelfrey and Rodriguez fail to see they’re trying to have it both ways, no less guilty than the Geraldos and Oprahs they twit in wanting no good deed to go unridiculed.

No Good Deed

[Inside] the Ford, Hollywood, Calif.; 87 seats; $25 top

Production: A Furious Theater Company presentation of a play in two acts by Matt Pelfrey. Directed by Damaso Rodriguez. Fight choreography, Brian Danner.

Creative: Sets, John Iacovelli; costumes, Christy Hauptman; lighting, Dan Weingarten; video projections, Jason H. Thompson; sound and original composition, Doug Newell; original graphic illustration, Ben Matsuya. Opened, reviewed Jan. 21, 2012. Runs through Feb. 26. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

Cast: Josh Jaxon Nick CernochWith: Adam Critchlow, Brian Danner, Katie Marie Davies, Stefanie Demetriades, David C. Hernandez, Dana Kelly Jr., Danny Lacy, Shawn Lee, Johanna McKay, Troy Metcalf, Robert Pescovitz.

More Legit

  • Frozen review Broadway

    Broadway Musicians Earn Largest Wage Increase in Two Decades

    Broadway musicians have succeeded in earning their largest wage increase in over two decades. Announced on Wednesday, the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM said in a statement that after over four months of deliberations, they have secured a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Broadway League and Coordinated Bargaining Partners to [...]

  • The Kilroys The List

    Listen: New List, New Leaders as the Kilroys Push for Parity

    The collective of writers and producers known as the Kilroys has been pushing for gender parity in the theater for five years now. With the launch last week of the latest edition of the List — the group’s annual round-up (inspired by Hollywood’s Black List) of plays by women, trans and non-binary writers — members [...]

  • Annette Bening

    Star-Studded Cast to Perform Live Reading of the Mueller Report

    Haven’t perused the Mueller report yet? A star-studded cast, including Annette Bening, Kevin Kline, and John Lithgow, can read it to you. For one night only on Monday, June 24, stars will perform a live reading of passages from the Mueller report for “The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts,” Robert Schenkkan’s [...]

  • Paula Vogel Never Expected 'Indecent' to

    Paula Vogel Never Expected 'Indecent' to Be This Timely

    When Paula Vogel began writing “Indecent” in 2010, she had no idea how resonant its exploration of immigration woes, anti-Semitism and homophobia in the past century would become in the current political climate. The Tony-nominated play, running until July 7 at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theater, traces the theatrical history of 1907 Yiddish play “God of Vengeance” [...]

  • Bitter Wheat review

    West End Review: John Malkovich in David Mamet's 'Bitter Wheat'

    How soon is too soon? Hardly a year had passed since allegations against Harvey Weinstein were made public before David Mamet announced that his satire on the subject, “Bitter Wheat,” was set to star John Malkovich in the West End. Six months later, we’re sat watching a corpulent, super-rich movie mogul — Barney Fein (cough, [...]

  • Batman Julia Roberts Spike Lee

    Batman, Julia Roberts, Spike Lee Among 2020 Walk of Fame Honorees

    Batman, Julia Roberts and Spike Lee are among the names selected to be inducted into the 2020 Walk of Fame. The full list of honorees was announced by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Walk of Fame Selection Committee via an exclusive livestream by Variety. Chosen from hundreds of nominees during a selection meeting in June, [...]

  • Tracy Letts

    Tracy Letts' Comedy 'The Minutes' to Hit Broadway in 2020

    Playwright Tracy Letts’ comedy “The Minutes” will hit the Broadway stage in Feb. 2020. “The Minutes,” written by actor, producer and playwright Letts, is a comedy taking a look at the current state of American politics through the lens of a small, fictional town called Big Cherry. The play is set in a city council [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content