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Taimak Guarriello in Road House
Photo © Nick Andrews
There are several cool fight sequences in Road House (the official title is Road House: The Stage Version Of The Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From The '80s Cult Classic "The Last Dragon" Wearing A Blond Mullet Wig), along with some cleverly utilized video sequences. At the performance I attended, the audience certainly seemed to be having a good time. But this production is nowhere near as entertaining as it could have been.

Director Timothy Haskell and company obviously had a good time putting the show together; the game performers have a lot of energy even if they are somewhat lacking in acting ability. Unfortunately, Haskell seems to have encouraged the cast members to deliver their lines in a wink-wink, nudge-nudge fashion when the show would have been more effective if they had reigned in their performances. Shouting out lines and playing characters as broad caricatures is only entertaining for a few minutes at most, and it's a losing strategy for a show that lasts an intermissionless hour and a half.

For those who may have missed the Swayze film, the plot concerns Dalton, a bouncer who is hired to clean up a bar called the Double Deuce. He runs afoul of local tycoon Brad Wesley and his gang of thugs; he also falls for lady doctor Elizabeth Clay, is pals with blind musician Cody, and has a best friend/mentor named Wade Garret. There's lots of fighting and explosions, and the bad guy gets it in the end.

As with Poseidon!, the stage "adaptation" of The Poseidon Adventure that played the New York International Fringe Festival last year, it helps if you've seen the movie upon which the show is based. It helps even more if you're obsessed with it or, at least, have viewed it recently. In preparation for the staged Road House, I watched the movie on home video; during the show, I found myself having to explain several of the visual gags and running jokes to my theater companion, who had never seen the flick.

Despite the reservations noted above, I still found much to enjoy in the show. Taimak (pronounced "Tie-mock") Guarriello is fun to watch as philosophy student cum bouncer Dalton. His facial expressiveness endows him with a certain amount of charm and he utilizes his martial arts prowess to goofily comic effect. As mentioned previously, the fight sequences are well done -- and there are lots of them! They were choreographed by Guarriello and they have led Haskell to term the show a "fightsical."

Giuseppe "Ago" Agostaro is quite effective as Wade Garret; he even bears a passing resemblance to Sam Elliott, who played the part in the movie. According to his program bio, Agostaro is also a stage magician, which probably explains the number of magic tricks he performs during the show. Everything he does, from lighting a cigarette with a roaring flame from his wallet to pulling a big, ummm, stick from the fly of his pants is done with a flourish.

In the end, Road House is a fun night out if you don't go in with high expectations. (To help get folks into the mood, $2 beers are sold prior to the show.) But those who are looking for an intellectually stimulating experience would be better off trying their luck elsewhere.

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