Classes clash in Horovitz’s ‘Gloucester Blue’

24Sep15

by Mark Sardella

gloucester_blue3

There are no role models in Israel Horovitz‘s new play, unless you count liars, philanderers, extortionists and murderers among your heroes. But if you like your humor black with a touch of Coen brothers absurdism, you’ll enjoy Gloucester Blue, currently in an extended run at Gloucester Stage through Oct. 11.

All the action in Wakefield, MA native (and 1956 Wakefield High School graduate) Horovitz’s latest play takes place in a run-down Gloucester loft owned by a wealthy young couple. Bradford Ellis IV, also known as “Bummy” (played by Lewis D. Wheeler) and his perfectly pretty blonde wife Lexi Carrington (Esme Allen) recently purchased the loft for $800,000 as a summer home.

They’ve hired a local contractor, Stumpy (Francisco Solorzano), to completely renovate the space. Stumpy’s regular helper in on his honeymoon so he has brought in an out-of-work friend of a friend to assist with the reno.

gloucester_blue3-shotAt 56, Latham (Robert Walsh) is a good 20 years older than his boss, and their tastes clash early on when Latham blasts Aerosmith on his boom box as the two spackle, prime and paint the walls of the loft, which is strewn with paint buckets and drop cloths. When Stumpy asks Latham to lower the volume and then turn off the music entirely, an irritated Latham asks Stumpy what he likes to listen to.

It seems at first a little incongruous when working stiff Stumpy says he listens to NPR, until we (and Latham) learn who has been influencing his tastes of late. The two workers discuss everything from pop culture to politics, even taking some ripped-from-the-headlines swipes at Donald Trump.

When Lexi shows up with some paint color samples, Latham immediately picks up on the fact that there seems to be more than an employer-employee gloucester_blue-walsh_allenrelationship going on between Lexi and Stumpy. He also gathers that Lexi’s father was Judge Carrington, the very jurist who had once sentenced Latham to a stretch behind bars.

Latham’s rough-around-the-edges manner grates on Lexi’s upper crust sensibilities and after a private “meeting” between Lexi and Stumpy, Stumpy tells Latham that he has to let him go.

Latham flies into a rage, the ugly result of which presents the ever opportunistic Latham with an idea for a way to effect a major upgrade in his lifestyle.

Doing double duty as playwright and director, Horovitz has assembled a top-notch professional cast for this production.

gloucester_blue4Walsh is especially good as the Gloucester lowlife who never lets a crisis go to waste, especially one of his own making.

And Allen nails the part of the pretentious, preppy Hamilton housewife, who enjoys all the benefits of her husband’s money even as she sneaks around behind his back.

There’s plenty of Horovitz’s trademark humor, as he presents the rich and the working class and all of their respective foibles without passing judgement.

In the end, it seems, there is no high road for any of these characters – only the gutter.

Gloucester Blue runs through Oct. 11 at Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the Gloucester Stage Box Office at 978-281-4433 or visit gloucesterstage.com.

[Gloucester Blue, written and Directed by Israel Horovitz. Set Design, Jenna McFarland Lord. Costume Design, Chelsea Kerl. Lighting Design, Brian J. Lilienthal. Sound Design, David Reiffel. Stage Manager, Robin Grady. Fight Director, Robert Walsh. Featuring Esme Allen, Francisco Solorzano, Robert Walsh and Lewis D. Wheeler.]

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