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Theatre Review: Echo Location

B Street Theatre / Courtesy

Kurt Johnson and Maya Lynne Robinson in Echo Location

B Street Theatre / Courtesy

“Echo Location” is a comedy that hinges on a guy who feels he’s been wronged. His name is Bluetooth and he’s a husky veteran of the street scene.  When we meet him, Bluetooth is aggrieved.  His woman has left him and is marrying another guy. And that other guy accidentally killed Bluetooth’s cat Gary, in a rather gruesome way.

Bluetooth: I gotta total up inside what he took from me. Broke into my house, took Emmy and all her dresses and womanly things, which I really enjoyed having around. And then there’s Gary. That’s a lot, that’s a lot that has been subtracted from my life.

So Bluetooth issues a non-negotiable demand to his ex-girlfriend Emmy.  She grimly communicates it to her new fiancé Ben, who can’t believe his ears.

Ben: He wants to beat me up?

Emmy: I mean, you know, said something about the law of the street, or some other form of testicular pig pucky, you steal his woman, you kill his cat, you rob his house, there’s gotta be atonement.

Ben: He wants me to just let him beat me up?

Emmy: Well, that’s one way to look at it…

Bluetooth pledges he won’t kill the guy, he just wants to even the score. That’s the moral dilemma that this brand new comedy poses, and if it reminds you of something you saw years ago – it should. American playwright Carter Lewis is doing a modern variation of Shakespeare’s character Shylock, who angrily demands a pound of flesh, cut from the living body of the loverboy who’s run off with Shylock’s eligible daughter, without Shylock’s permission.

This show plays its modern situation mostly for laughs, but there’s something unsettling about the way this 21st Century comedy buys into some rather medieval concepts – namely, that women are the basically the property of jealous men.  This play opens with bantering dialog, but the transition to the more serious ending isn’t very convincing.

So here’s the skinny: It’s possible to accept this show as casual entertainment, because the confrontations between characters are diverting, and the acting’s good. But underneath the accessible, glittering surface, you’ll find a can of worms. The playwright may want to revise his script now that he’s seen this first production. 

“Echo Location” continues through February 28th at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre.

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