I have never spent very much time thinking about what would pass through my mind if I were struck by lightning. I have always been much more concerned about not getting hit by it in the first place. Hence, if I’m say in a pool and the lifeguards are ordering me out because lightning is in the area, I get out. Because I’ve always heard that what follows after getting hit by lightning is not that good.
Flynn, the main character The Golfer, written by Brian Parks, doesn’t have a guardian golfer to get him off the golf course before the storm. Unfortunately, he gets hit by lightning as soon as he gets to the first tee. This is doubly unfortunate, not just because he’s been hit by lightning, but also because his weekly golf outing is his only escape from the drudgery and pettiness of the office.
For Flynn, life after lightning is immediately absurd, non-sensical, illogical, and, to say the least, difficult to grasp. All he wants to do is to get back to his life, especially the golf game. Instead, familiar characters saying and doing very unfamiliar things float through his life and expect him to respond logically to their illogic. Just to name a few: Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, Charlemagne, the Maiden of Bath, the Catholic priest. Then there are the unfamiliar, inanimate things that came to life: the talking gonads, the oracle of the golf club covers, the choir of the eels. The scenes and characters that unfold are completely random, both in terms of who appears as well as what is said and it is as if we are being given a private Thespian tour of Flynn’s unconscious. It is a wildly imaginative and absurdly funny unconscious. Non-sequitors abound and the laughs along with them.
Flynn’s unconscious rambles along for quite some time (the play’s running time is about 75 minutes) and he is mostly a passive character as all of the other characters come to life and move him through his own unconscious. Sure, he is coerced or implicated into doing or saying things he does not want to, but in general, he is helpless to redirect his own destiny and get back to his dreary life, which seems eminently more attractive to him than the wacky characters who keep moving him into different scenes.
In all, there are 65 wacky characters in the play. Most of them emerge after the lightning strikes, but there are a few that are part of his real life before and after the lightning. The amazing thing is that the 65 characters were played by nine actors over 53 scenes. This is a tall task to ask of a cast in a play dominated by episodic randomness and illogical dialogue. But the cast was terrific. The scene changes are quick and easy. And the whole play fits together well. I would single out the corporate IT guy, the Tooth Fairy and Charlemagne, but really it is unfair to single out these in particular when everyone contributed greatly to the flamboyant craziness.
Ultimately, the lightning strike and its after-effect come to an end. Flynn is returned to his prior life, but as could easily be imagined, something seems amiss. And rightly so. One is left wondering at the end of the jaunt through his unconscious why his life was so dreary in the first place. If his unconscious imagination was that inventive and funny, wouldn’t it be more natural for Flynn to have had an equally inventive conscious life? But no, for whatever reason, he did not. As the curtain closes and Flynn chooses to go back to that wild unconscious place, the audience can only wonder whether it was the lightning that brought that out or whether it was the job that suppressed it in the first place.
The Golfer, directed by Ian W. Hill, stars Fred Backus, Broderick Ballantyne, Rebecca Gray Davis, Lex Friedman, Michael Karp, Bob Laine, Matthew Napoli, Timothy McCown Reynolds, Alyssa Simon, and Anna Stefanic. The production features costumes by Kaitlyn Day with overall design by Ian W. Hill, assisted by Berit Johnson.
The Golfer runs March 31-April 2 at 8 p.m.; April 3 at 4 p.m.; April 4, 6, 7, and 8 at 8 p.m.; and April 9 at both 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Brick is located at 579 Metropolitan Avenue between Union and Lorimer, Brooklyn, close to the G and L subway lines, as well as the B24, B48, and Q59 buses. Running time is approximately 75 minutes. Tickets are $18, available at bricktheater.com or at 866-811-4111.