“A Behanding in Spokane” by Martin McDonagh is playing at the Las Vegas Little Theatre from October 18th until November 3rd; I attended the second performance.
The play begins with Carmichael, played by Joe Hammond, in a seedy motel room. Carmichael is looking for his hand that was cut off twenty-seven years ago. When Carmichael walks over to his closet and shoots a gun inside, he alerts a sarcastic and confident receptionist Mervyn, played by Aaron Fentress. Aaron, in his stand-out performance, has the most intelligent dialogue and offers an outside, more calming look on the situation.
Hammond played the racist with a grudge convincingly, the character coming off as angry and ignorant. The idea that someone would be looking for his hand even after it was impossible for it to be saved was somewhat unbelievable and took me away from engaging fully in the story. Stuffed in the closet of Carmichael’s motel room is Toby, played by Joseph Romo, a drug and hand dealer who tries to convince Carmichael that he has his hand. Romo’s character is paranoid and neurotic, a cry-baby Samuel L. Jackson ala Pulp Fiction, in a good way. The foul language mixed with his crying hysterics afforded the play numerous laughs. Marilyn, played by April Sauline, is Toby’s girlfriend and adds confrontation between herself, her boyfriend, and Carmichael. She also adds a touch of sexual tension between herself and Mervyn, even though it is purely to try to get herself released from the situation she and Toby find themselves in. A suitcase full of hands provided most of the laughs; when the case is opened hands flying everywhere make for an oddly amusing moment.
The play itself had numerous holes I couldn’t ignore. When Toby and Marilyn were trying to move the case they acted like it was incredibly heavy. However, when the case was opened they were throwing the hands around like they weighed nothing at all. When Mervyn first came into the room he didn’t notice the blood on the closet door and if he had he didn’t say anything about it. Also when the gunshot went off, Mervyn didn’t seem phased by it at all and no one within the motel said anything or called reception to complain. These are all problems I couldn’t ignore within the story-line of the production. The direction by T.J Larsen focuses on the absurdity and hilarity of the play. The language also describes the nature of these characters. The prop hands by Stacia Zinkevich provide most of the laughs. The elaborate set by stage manager Karen Gibson gives the feel of being in a genuine motel room.
You can purchase tickets at LVLT’s Online Box Office.