Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Scotty Keister 

Who the heck is this green guy and what does he want? Why do these three people seem to know him as someone completely different? How long does it take to get all that green crap off? These were the questions I kept asking myself during the West Coast Premiere of Jim Knable’s “Green Man,” currently running at Stages Theatre. These questions are all eventually answered, all except for the part about taking the green stuff off. That’s the one that really puzzled me.

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Photo Courtesy : StagesTheatre

See, the show starts with a completely naked guy (Miguel Castellano), all green. Seriously, even his junk is green. He’s posing as a gargoyle for Abigail (Miriam Ani) in her apartment. Abigail is a prickly one, all snarky hard edges, hiding some kind of deep pain. When hubby Ronald (Christ Hayhurst) comes home the Green Man makes a break and jumps out the window, which isn’t really necessary as Ronald never even sees him. Ronald and Abigail don’t have a great relationship. She’s on some kind of medication due to a recent breakdown, and doesn’t like being reminded about it. Ronald is only trying to help, but it’s fruitless. Neither one of them is happy. Abigail is formerly a successful painter who is just getting started again, with an obsession about painting gargoyles. Ronald is a formerly renown architect who is no longer appreciated at his firm, and is now butting heads over a new project because he wants to include gargoyles. These gargoyles are to be designed and sculpted by artist Genice, who is also obsessed with the stone creatures. Except that her gargoyle is not going to have a demon head, but instead the head of the Green Man. In mythology, the Green Man is an ancient nature spirit, a protector representing harmony with the earth.

As it turns out, this very same green dude, now called Gary, turns up as an intern at Ronald’s firm, but now he’s in suit and tie, with no mention whatsoever of his emerald hue. Which does seem a bit odd. He immediately is taken in by Ronald when they bond over Ronald’s architectural mentor. It seem Gary is a big fan of Ronald’s work. Then we find out the same green guy is also Genice’s live-in boyfriend, Gregory, a well-known pianist who is rarely home, always on the road playing gigs. Again, no mention of the skin color. This green guy is clearly someone different to each of them, no explanation. And that becomes the mystery of the play. We have to ask ourselves, not only who is this green guy, but is he, in fact, THE Green Man, and if so, what’s he doing there? Subtle clues are dropped along the way, but not enough to really provide the solution that doesn’t come until the very end.

It’s an intriguing and cleverly written play. As directed by CSUF alumni, Jeremy Lewis, it plays as a tense mystery, long on the abstract, and never dull. Even in its brief rambling bits, it always holds the attention. A relationship develops between the three characters that brings out much of the darkness they all share, yet even these secrets are never fully exposed until the climax. It’s a play about redemption, throwing off the past, finding love in the darkness of the shattered soul. Performances by all four actors are natural and real, each hitting a different tone, but harmonizing with each other eloquently. Although the final reveal does answer most questions, it leaves some open to question, which sucked me right into a long post-play thought process. Any show that can get you thinking about it afterwards is a good show in my book. I still want to know about that green make-up though.

“Green Man” runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm through August 1 at Stages Theatre.

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