Photo of Bats members Cooper Daniels (left) and Rob Yang in "Bingo with the Indians": TheFlea.org
By Ellen Wernecke
Like a great caper film, the seeds of dissolution are planted in "Bingo With The Indians," Adam Rapp's new play (which he also directed) at The Flea. The taskmaster (Jessica Pohly), the barely-reined-in muscle (Cooper Daniels), and the lookout (Rob Yang) are ensconced in a motel hours before the rip-off is to take place, listening to lite rock and dreaming their solitary dreams. In order to "man the fucking gunboats of destiny," the trio -- as it turns out, united in their desire to put on a play in New York -- need to collect $3,000, which they plan to get from ripping off a church bingo night in the taskmaster "Big Daddy"'s former hometown in New Hampshire. Cue the motivational singles and goofy setbacks? Please. For these dark kids and their dark deed, only more darkness can be wrung out.
From the audible crash that opens the show, "Bingo with the Indians" is a steely-eyed journey straight to the heart of darkness as the actors suck a pot-smoking local (Evan Enderle) and his rebelling ex (Corinne Donly) into their misdeeds. It would be hard to choose a stand-out from among the cast members, but Yang's soft-voiced menace as Wilson, the stage manager who attempts to stage his own fantasy, is onstage the most and is the most creepily compelling to watch. Without the freedom (as Daniels has as Stash, the drug addict and aspiring star) to caterwaul and let loose physically, Yang makes every blink and gesture a conscious act, and the result is completely untouchable. This is the kind of show that gets away with placing a digital clock front-and-center in its set design; I was tempted to look only twice.
The big-tent irony of watching some Off-Off-Broadway actors (members of The Flea’s resident troupe, The Bats) playing a troupe of Off-Off-Broadway actors aids the show, especially in one scene where its humor gives the audience the break it badly needs from the increasing brutality of the strangers. It's a moment so classically Rapp, you might even see it coming--but you probably won't, given the crackling tension of everything else happening onstage. The play yet to be shaped--described by Big Daddy as being “about everything you could think of”--is clearly, as “Bingo” rolls to its conclusion, the show being staged before us. As Wilson admonishes, while pouring Coca-Cola into his collaborator’s messenger bag, “I personally like it when actors go to the mountain.” Rapp sends them there and reaps the dramatic bounty he has sown.
"Bingo with the Indians"
now playing through Dec. 22 at The Flea, 41 White St.
Tickets $20-$30, OvationTix
For more information, visit The Flea's Website.