".22 Caliber Mouth," a play with music by Lauren Robert opened the fall season at the Bloomington Playwrights Project in a production directed by John Kinzer. The play is full of verbal jousting, aggressively defensive speeches that reveal as much as they seek to hide. There is a lot of small bore mouthing in ".22 Caliber Mouth," but in intensity and impact it is a ".357 Magnum" of a play."
Playwright and songwriter Lauren Robert played the wary and combative Deanne. Deanne was brutally abused by her father. Her only way to cope with her anger and guilt is by a downward spiral of self abuse by herself and in relationships that will abuse her further.
Kris Lee was Deanne’s friend or at least fellow sufferer in the depths, Frankie. Frankie is an addle headed drugged out shell, but playwright Robert has given him some great stumbling flights of linguistic fancy. Lee made wonderful use of those words.
Frankie’s friend and sharer of park benches in ".22 Caliber Mouth," was the gorgeously leggy and dramatic hooker Carmel played by Nicholas Simpson. Simpson too made good use of some street-spiced speeches and was alternately the portrait of a lady and the picture of a slut.
Actor and collaborator Richard Perez played the deeply conflicted Colin seeking a relationship with Deanne. Colin is an adult sex abuser. Playwright Robert dramatizes a very messy and bumpy relationship that may in a very weird turn be the only release for him and for Deanne
Danielle Bruce as Deanne’s sister Ronnie completed the quintet of ".22 Caliber Mouth." Bruce did a good job with the difficult and sometimes thankless role of the only apparently normal character in the play.
".22 Caliber Mouth" is a play with music. Most of the songs were by Lauren Robert with one contribution by Slats Klug. The instrumental sound track was performed by Dan Lodge-Rigal with contributions from Robert and Klug. One hearing isn’t really enough to do the music justice, but the songs did plumb emotional depths and at the same time they advanced the drama and showed an almost Sondheim feel for the setting of language.
There are many memorable dramatic moments in the play, but the one that will stay with me the longest is of Deanne trying to turn back the clock on tragedy, by unscrewing the parts of the fatal gun.
Lauren Robert’s play with music ".22 Caliber mouth" plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday at eight and Sunday at two at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, through October fifth. CDs of the show’s soundtrack are available.