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Of cop-outs, both theatrical and real 

I love surprises. I live for the unexpected.

That’s what I was thinking the other afternoon - the kind of day when only mad dogs and Englishmen would be outside in the noonday sun - when a police van pulled alongside me as I started to cross 39th Street near the local Indianapolis Motor Speedway known as Price Street.

Aha! I thought. Finally, a conversation with someone from the police department. A rapprochement. A reconciliation. A reaching-out.

Finally, some attempted camaraderie in our common fight against crime and drugs, injustice and blight.

“Hello, officer,” I said brightly, maybe a little too brightly, as he -- shock of all shocks -- unrolled his tinted window to talk. Maybe he would show me a picture of some wanted criminal. Maybe he would ask for assistance in some burglary. I could be a junior police officer, see what it’s like to wear blue, to carry a badge.

It was not to happen. There was no hello, no help wanted. He merely stopped to say, “We have leash laws in this town, you know.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said, looking down at the weather-beaten dogs, panting at my feet. “In this part of town? It’s 100 degrees. We’re the only ones on the street.”

Then I grew desperate, defensive,

hurt. “Anyway, what about the two dogs up the street on East Broad that roam around and terrorize the neighborhood? What about those dogs?”

“Not my job,” he said. “Call animal control.” Then he rolled up his window, without a hello, without a good-bye, and drove off in his continued quest to make the streets safe.

Urban absurdity. Loopy behavior.

But I digress.

I love surprises. I live for the unexpected. Just when it seems as if the only things people in Savannah want to talk about are SCAD and its plan to take over the universe, all the real estate deals we shoulda/coulda done, the expensive commercial property on Broughton Street, something new pops up.

Just when my own life has melted down to weeding or reading, laundry or cleaning out my refrigerator, gazpacho or cucumber soup for dinner, I opt for a walk downtown, a last minute stop at the Sentient Bean for a Greek Isles sandwiches and a neutral glance at the box scores in the newspaper.

And that is when I encounter Cop-Out, a wonderfully dark and well-acted play by John Guare, the same playwright who wrote Six Degrees of Separation.

I wasn’t going to stay. How good could it be? I wasn’t going to watch. I needed to walk my dogs (my partners in crime). I wasn’t going to even inquire about the production company.

What? The Fowl Brick Theater Company? Studiowest Productions? Who are they? Never heard of ‘em. Hey, my negative side says, if you didn’t even go to Spoleto this year, you didn’t need to see this play.

But when I caught a few snippets of dialogue on the way out, I reversed course, took a seat, stayed the distance and never fell asleep once.

The cast of two -- Tosha Fowler and Chris Brickhouse -- was great: engaging, wickedly funny, with a terrific sense of timing. Don’t ask me what the play’s about exactly, something about a cop looking for the murderer of a cat and a woman picketing against the Vietnam War -- to name two of their multiple characters -- but the writing was snappy and the plot -- such as it was -- delightfully and beautifully absurd. Just what I was in the mood for.

“(It’s) pointless, really,” Mel Mrochinski said of the plot.

Mrochinski, who helped direct Cop-Out, is a former theater professor at Armstrong Atlantic State University who taught both Brickhouse and Fowler. Now he and his wife Sheila run the Senator’s Gate Bed and Breakfast on Hall Street.

Mrochinski, a 30-year veteran of the theater in Chicago; Columbus, Ohio, and Interlocken, Michigan, said Guare’s House of Blue Leaves, another nontraditional play, is even better.

“Theater has to get into the deepest part of your dreams, has to show you a mirror you might recoil from, but also show you reality so you might know what to do with it.” A quote from John Guare.

At its best, theater is all about surprises, is all over the unexpected. Thank you, Fowl Brick Theater Company -- whoever you are -- for providing both.

 

E-mail Jane at gofish5@earthlink.net/.

 

Connect Savannah does not endorse disobeying local leash laws, or any other type of law for that matter.

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Jane Fishman

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Connect Today 12.05.2016

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