Human Race production lacks focus
By Richard O Jones
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
THEATER REVIEW It is true that in the early 1970s, the FBI kept
surveillance on former Beatle John Lennon, presumably an effort to
build a case against him in order to ship his pot-smoking left-wing
hippie keister back to the U.K.
Likewise, much of the background on "Ears of a Beatle," now on the
boards in a Human Race Theatre production, is based on history,
beginning with the performance of "John Sinclair," the song that
helped free a man from an unjust conviction, to the former Beatle's
murder in 1980. The production uses photos, artwork and sound clips
to hammer home that basis in reality, which Beatle fans will
appreciate, but the story itself, of two FBI agents assigned to the
case, is pure fiction.
Human Race veteran Tim Lile is Howard Ballantine, the hard-core fed
heading up the case, and Ryan Wesley Gilreath (whom I last saw in New
Edgecliff Theatre's produciton of Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig" last
season) is the younger undercover partner, Daniel McClure, posing as
a weaver (the original assignment had him posing as a guitar player,
but he feared he would have to prove it somewhere along the way)
trying to work his way into Lennon's left-wing circle of friends,
which includes the likes of Abby Hoffman.
As the story transpires, the two begin to switch places. While
conducting surveillance in a phone company uniform, Howard finds
himself in Lennon's Dakota apartment, and his attitude toward the
Beatle starts to shift. On the other hand, Daniel's cover takes a
beating when he impregnates his source and finds himself on the verge
of becoming a family man.
While "Ears on a Beatle" has its funny moments, it's hard to say that
its a good comedy, and the dramatic parts just seem a little too pat
and contrived to summon up much of an emotional response.
It's all a little too easy and finally comes off more of a fan
tribute to Lennon than a thoughtful piece of theater.
how to go
WHAT: "Ears on a Beatle" by Mark St. Germain
WHERE: Human Race Theatre Company, Loft Theatre, 128 N. Main St., Dayton
WHEN: Through Nov. 2
MORE INFO: (937) 228-3630; www.humanracetheatre.org