David Holthouse, author of Stalking the Bogeyman, which premiered this past weekend at GableStage and runs through August 28, is an extraordinary talent. He tells stories like few others — with imagination, drama, and a profound understanding of the twisted side of human existence.
His play is a powerful retelling of a youthful experience, as well as a testament to the danger of holding the truth inside.
It is brilliantly performed at GableStage, where Taylor Miller plays a studly version of Holthouse — who isn't so studly, or at least hasn't been the most studly of individuals the couple times I have met him. (Genius, however? Yes.)
In the play, Miller's Holthouse tells the first-person story of being abused as a 7-year-old, living a life with memories of the abuse growing inside him, and then eventually tracking down his abuser.
It's a short one-act that could be difficult to watch because of the subject matter. But under the direction of Joseph Adler, it moves quickly and with a profound understanding of how to keep audiences involved. (I took my 16-year-old son, who could have been embarrassed or worse, but he enjoyed the play.)
A highlight of the production is Bill Schwartz — a former Miami Police spokesman and now a stellar character actor. Schwartz plays three roles in this performance: Russ Crawford, Payaso, and Coach Billy. All are flawed characters. Payaso gives us, in some ways, the most profound understanding of what's really behind the main character — largely thanks to Schwartz's movements and facial expressions.
Miller is also good in the lead role, as is Alex Alvarez in the role of the Bogeyman and David Kwiat as the Bogeyman's father and Emmit. Kwiat deserves special mention for his presto-change-o of roles.
The set, by Lyle Baskin, is clever and competently lit by Bryan Kaschube, who created five minisets that keep the narrative moving. If there is any flaw in this play, it's that the sound, by Matt Corey, is spotty. You can hear some of the miked locations better than others.
Overall, Stalking the Bogeyman is a solid contribution to the local theater scene. And an important one — because it forces us to confront a taboo subject.
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