The Vandal Reviews
Quite a ride
Tangent Theatre delivers a winner with "The Vandal"
by Jim Donick, March 12, 2014
Once again our friends at Tangent Theatre have brought a significant off-Broadway experience all the way to Tivoli. Hamish Linklater’s play, “The Vandal,” had its debut in New York just over a year ago at the Flea Theater in TriBeCa. It opened to critical acclaim and was even brought back a few weeks after it closed for another week of performances. Needless to say, with a background like that we were anxious to get a chance to see it. We were not disappointed.
This one has more than enough emotion; it’s a veritable roller coaster. They should have installed seat belts in the theater. Michael Rhodes, Tangent’s Artistic Director, comments in his notes on the play that “it’s a perfect play for us, a vivid character study, their journey complex and
raw.” It’s all of that and more.
“The Vandal” is about connections and love, loss and pain and sorrow all wrapped in a most absorbing script that’s finished with a glimpse of hope. The story takes place on a cold night in Kingston. The Carpenter Shop Theater in March makes for an appropriately cold night in Tivoli just across the river.
Linklater’s script is not quite Pulitzer material but, for a first play, it impresses. Maybe the Pulitzer committee could add an award for Rookie of the Year? He has a marvelous ear for dialog as well as a great
sense of understated humor. The clever repartee, particularly delivered by the character of the boy, approaches the outrageous but never sinks to the sophomoric. (Admittedly it gets close when he takes off on the metaphysical meanings of Cool Ranch Doritos, but even that is entertaining.)
We particularly liked his riffing on the name “Alice,” bringing in the looking glass, her restaurant, Alice B. Toklas and maybe a couple of other allusions. The man character has a beautiful irony in a tale he tells the woman about explaining death to his son. The boy knew his mother was dead but wanted to know where that meant she was. Man settled on telling him “Long Island.” That worked OK until a friend summered in East Hampton and came back alive. Then what does one say?
The cast are but three, Samuel Hoeksema, Michael Rhodes and Jill Van
Note. The latter two are Equity Actors and it shows. Mr. Hoeksema, as well, clearly has a most promising career in front of him. Actually there is a fourth character, one we can all identify with particularly well this year. It’s the cold. In some ways that fourth character may be the glue that ties it together.
Boy offers an ongoing babble of silliness interspersed with the occasional lapse into solipsistic soliloquy. He is particularly engaging. Hoeksema delivers the role with almost manic energy. Ms. Van Note brings to the woman character a smoldering sadness with an ability to come alive emotionally at a moment’s notice. From the second the play opens with her sitting shivering at the bus stop we sense the depth of her cold. It only gets deeper as she lets us ever further into her soul. Mr. Rhodes as the man is a likable sort of guy with his own deep sadnesses that he covers as best he can with occasionally sardonic humor. Full of his own surprises, he’s hard not to like.
Direction is impeccable. Making perfect use of this most intimate theater setting, Amy Lemon Olson manages to bring out the best in her actors without any sign of heavy-handedness. We have often opined as a writer that the best editors are those who don’t leave any fingerprints when they are done. We suspect the same is true for the best of directors. They find the truth in the script and in the actors and then find a way to turn the two into a single reality. It’s not often that a production leaves us
March is shaping up to be a big month of theatre in the Hudson Valley. From Tivoli to Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie there will be interesting choices every weekend. “The Vandal” will be playing through the end of
the month. If one can only catch one dramatic show this month then one just may be it: a first-rate script with a most professional
It’s no coincidence, one supposes, that the address of Tangent’s Carpenter Shop Theater on the main drag in Tivoli actually is Broadway.
Tangent Theatre's 'Vandal' is a must-see
by Ralph Hall, March 12, 2014
“The Vandal,” produced by the Tangent Theatre Company in Tivoli’s Carpenter Shop Theater, is a rare opportunity for an audience to see a new play written about the local community.
Billed as “a dark comedy about lost souls intersecting on a cold night in Kingston,” the play was written by Hamish Linklater, features Samuel Hoeksema, and Equity players Michael Rhodes and Jill Van Note and is directed by Amy Lemon Olson. This production is only the second time the play has been staged – the first was in New York City.
The Observer talked with the three cast members and the director before the official opening March 6. The conversation focused on the play’s title. The word “vandal” has been defined as “one who willfully or ignorantly destroys, damages, or defaces property belonging to another or to the public.” For those familiar with the script, the question then is: “Is truth a property of its owner – can one vandalize the truth?”
Samuel Hoeksema (Boy) is a young, very talented actor, to whom the author has given a character who has so much to tell – about how the world is and how he fits into that world. The stage is his when he speaks!
Jill Van Note (Woman) delivers each line and movement interpretation with such strength and command that she brings forth the many emotions of her character. It is also clear that she has done her intellectual homework – she knows well the contemporary thinking on the subject matter at hand.
Michael Rhodes (Man & Artistic Director) should be acknowledged both for his performance and his wisdom in bringing this piece to the Tangent stage. His character is the bridge, the link, between the others, and he often provides answers to even unasked questions. And he does it all with the calm grace of a seasoned performer.
Director Amy Lemon Olson and her cast and crew have created a play not-to-be-missed, in a compact, fast-moving and engaging fashion.
This is cutting-edge theatre at its best.
"I'm so thrilled I made it to the show (you know it's good when you can't stop thinking about it)... It's entirely unique, raw, jarring and so very tender… How lucky we are to know this play!.. I'm cheering for you."
-- Sarah Schaeffer, audience member