Way back in August 2000, a new theater opened its doors in a second floor loft on the fringe of Detroit’s Greektown with “A Night of Bogosian,” a series of monologues written by actor/playwright/novelist/social commentator Eric Bogosian. The Abreact Performance Space soon became Detroit’s coolest theater – how could it NOT, since the loft also served as the home of co-founders Thomas Hoagland and Chuck Reynolds, and theatergoers were treated as honored house guests – and the popular Bogosian earned a semi-regular spot on the playbill. But times change, thespians come and go – and award-winning theaters become homeless. So after wandering the neighborhoods in and around Downtown Detroit for its past two seasons, it’s only appropriate that The Abreact opens its NEW first-floor loft theater with “Bogosian V(5): The Christening.”
For this fifth drink at Bogosian’s well, arranger/director Reynolds assembled a mix of 14 monologues that shed light on the male psyche. Some are familiar while others are fresh, and if there’s a thread that ties these men together, it’s The American Dream: a few have attained it (but at what cost), some are in search of it, while the rest barely survive in its underbelly.
Those unfamiliar with Bogosian’s monologues will be in for quite a surprise. His characters are often alcohol-fueled, self-indulgent, foul-mouthed, hard-charging or ready to explode. But out of the rage, self-delusions and ego-fed grandeur comes a hard, uncomfortable truth about ourselves that we can’t deny. Or help laugh at.
And it’s in those moments that “Bogosian V” excels.
Most striking are a pair of monologues performed by Mike Eshaq. In the first (“Rock Law”), a highly successful and powerful executive deals with the everyday hassles of his job and home life. The second (“Rash”) takes place some years later and features the same executive now happily barbecuing in the backyard of his palatial home. Although the audience only hears one side of his many conversations, Eshaq interprets and paces his monologues so perfectly that you swear you hear what everyone else is saying. And because his visual focus is so tight, it’s easy to imagine the people he’s talking to (or screaming at) and where they are standing in relationship to him.
Equally powerful is Mike McGettigan’s “Blow Me.” Pacing back and forth like a snorting bull waiting to be let in the ring, McGettigan captures the seething rage of a man who’s been tossed aside by society, resents it and has no problem sharing his pent-up anger with everyone around him.
Also memorable is Eric Maher, first as a traveling ceramic tile salesman with a hooker in his hotel room, and later, as a drunken, flat-on-his-face veteran arguing with a passerby.
All the other cast members have moments to shine as well.
Adam Barnowski finds the perfect balance between braggadocio and straight shooter, as he explains what makes him unique (and much in demand) in “The Stud.” Director Reynolds generates plenty of laughs as he recalls the odd details of “The Dream.” Phil Bolden strikes a chord as a just-out-of-jail panhandler, while Sean McGettigan is all smiles as he reveals he has “No Problems.” And Alan Madlane truly is “The Quiet Man.”
The new loft – just like Bogosian’s work – is raw and holds great potential. And I look forward to many more engaging nights of theater there in the years to come.
‘Bogosian V(5): The Christening’
The Abreact Performance Space, 1301 W. Lafayette, #113, Detroit. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 3. Free admission/donations accepted. 313-485-0217. www.theabreact.com