Review by Alan Jozwiak of Poor Behavior: Falcon Theatre
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
Ben Franklin’s quote did not take into account the extreme behavior depicted in Falcon Theatre’s latest production Poor Behavior. Franklin would have changed the quote to make guests smell after a single day.
A single day is all it takes for two couples to break down and dissolve into a litany of poor behavior: pettiness, unreasonable anger, spitefulness, and constant bickering.
We get a foreshadowing of this during the opening of the play with a semi-drunken argument between Ella (played by Becca Howell) and Ian (played by Phineas Clark) over the nature of goodness, whether it is absolute or relative. Their spouses, Ella’s husband Peter (played by Derek Snow) and Ian’s wife Maureen (played by Torie Pate) look on in amusement, unaware that they will be sucked into a domestic dispute involving Ella and Ian that threatens both marriages.
This is an ensemble performance and director Lauren Carr assembled a strong stable of actors for this production. All have appeared in Falcon Theatre productions and they work well with one another. Poor Behavior is a play of small actions making a big difference and all these actors are able to deliver those small actions for large payoffs for the audience. Actions as simple as discerning bad muffins or pulling a basil plant make a world of difference.
Becca Howell was a standout playing the part of Ella. Howell played Ella with a blend of sophistication and assertiveness that was perfect for the role. Her energies are beautifully counterbalanced by Derek Snow as Peter, who does an outstanding job of going from good-natured husband to jealous lover wielding a frying pan in defense of his wife. Both work nicely off each other to establish a believable rut of a marriage.
Phineas Clark was also a standout as Ian, a man who has to deal with the histrionics of his wife Maureen and his desires for Ella. Clark’s Irish accent sounded believable and his character comes across as someone caught within difficult circumstances. This becomes the touchstone of that character. Torie Pate’s ability to convey Maureen’s incessant nagging, histrionics, and jealousy made her perfect for that role.
Special kudos goes to Scenic & Lighting Designer Ted Weil to create a compelling set that looked like a tony kitchen in a country house. The kitchen countertop and shelving units worked beautifully for this play (courtesy of Kitchens by Schoster). Their sterile whiteness highlighted the sterility within these couples’ marriages.
Poor Behavior is not going to be a show for those involved in couple’s counseling or dealing with issues of infidelity or divorce. This dark comedy will seem too dark. However, for the rest of us, this is a play where we can delight in Shadenfreude, a delight in the misfortunes of others. Local native Theresa Rebeck, who premiered this play in New York City, has crafted an engaging piece of theater in which every character is neither truly good or truly bad—but just fodder for us to laugh at.
Poor Behavior runs three weekends starting on November 17 and ending December 2. There will not be a performance on Thanksgiving Day (November 23). For more information on Falcon Theatre and ticket information for Poor Behavior, visit their website at htto://www.falcontheatre.net.