MATERIAL SHINES; PRODUCTION NEEDS POLISH - `BAGHEADS' FROM WRITER RON SIMONIAN IS SATIRE OF PSYCHOLOGY.
April 18, 1995 By ROBERT TRUSSELL Publication: The Kansas City Star
Ron Simonian's bizarre comedy "Bagheads" deserves a better production than it gets at Quality Hill Playhouse. The talented Sidonie Garrett directs a non-Equity cast and manages to capture the essence of Simonian's creative lunacy in fits and starts, but the Saturday performance lacked precision and the rhythmic drive needed to make the dialogue crackle. The central character is a psychologist (Matthew Rapport) struggling with his own very private compulsions while his wife (Jane Loutzenhiser) suffers from an impressive array of imaginary maladies, including paralysis and brain tumors. The psychologist, Eddie, is routinely visited by strange manifestations of his subconscious. These are the "bagheads," malevolent entities in black suits and, instead of heads, ominous black bags. Also figuring into the action is a talk-show host obsessed with hoagies (Vicki Baker), who turns to Eddie for psychological treatment. It wouldn't do to give too much away, but what appears to be Eddie's uncontrollable sexual appetite turns out to be an appetite of a very different kind. While the play delights in tastelessness and offers some valid commentaries on American sexual values and the pernicious influence of pop psychology, it seems a lesser work than Simonian's "Thanatos," which Garrett directed recently in New York.the bagheads are occasionally very funny, but their uncertain rhythms frequently undermine the script. Baker offers a very broad and amusing rendering of Bonnie, the talk-show host; Lancer Shull is interesting and effective in his brief role as Eric, a young man Eddie picks up in a bar; and Loutzenhiser turns in a superior performance, distinguished by amusing details and sharp timing, as Cassandra, Eddie's wife. Karen Iverson is quietly effective as a woman interviewing Eddie to document his strange story. The production values are minimal, although Roger Stoddard's sound design creates a tangible sense of atmosphere. The Kansas City Star Date: April 18, 1995 Page: E4 Copyright 1995 The Kansas City Star Co.