top of page
Reading a newspaper

October 28, 1996   By ROBERT TRUSSELL   Publication: The Kansas City Star

By running ads that describe playwright Ron Simonian as the ``Tarantino of the Heartland,'' the Unicorn Theatre does a disservice to the writer, fans of Quentin Tarantino's movies and Simonian's play, ``At the Feet of Doves. '' This two-character piece, directed in its world premier by Cynthia Levin, is alternately engrossing and annoying. Like Tarantino, Simonian exhibits a fondness for guns, an excessive reliance on sexual epithets and what might be generously described as immatu re attitudes about sex. But Tarantino's movies ``Reservoir Dogs'' and ``Pulp Fiction'' demonstrate a gift for complex narrative. His plots are like elaborate puzzles that keep viewers involved. Simonian, writing for the stage, can make no such claim. His narratives tend to be overly explicit or meandering ruminations in search of a plot thread. While that may be Simonian's big weakness, it also offers the most potential for interesting theater. Within the rambling monologues that make up the bulk of this play are the seeds of an undeveloped creative imagination. Just when you're ready to dismiss ``At the Feet of Doves'' as a derivative pastiche of movie clichés and adolescent fantasies, Simonian surprises you with an original insight or a unique twist. The setup involves two hired killers arriving in the woods with the body of their most recent victim. They plan to bury the luckless fellow, but only after the person who hired their services arrives with the money. As they wait, the boorish Kevin (T. Max Graham) and the younger, silk-suited Al (Matthew Rapport) engage in wide-ranging discussions about sex, politics, changing values, the meaning of life and so forth. Kevin is joyously carnal, Al is repressed. Kevin is a meat-eater, Al is a vegetarian. Kevin lives in the moment, Al believes in the occult. While Graham's experience and superb comic timing give us something fun to watch, and Rapport works hard to hold his own with the seasoned pro, the actors never really convince us that their characters are much more than bizarre constructs arbitrarily assembled by the playwright. Nothing in the play seems plausible, neither the sexual anecdotes shared during 90 minutes of jaw-boning nor the predictably violent conclusion. What works best in this production are videotaped flashbacks of the actual killing, which are shown on a large upstage screen. The grainy, black-and-white footage has a compelling film noir quality and tends to make the live action seem all the more tedious by comparison. Simonian remains a promising playwright who might be well-advised to make up his mind. Does he want to write for the movies or the theater? If he chooses the stage, then he should forget about Tarantino movies and give some serious thought to finding his own voice. The Kansas City Star Date: October 28, 1996 Page: E7 Copyright 1996 The Kansas City Star Co.

'Dove' is engrossing but annoying Shades of Tarantino aren't filling enough in new Simonian play.: Press
bottom of page