Beggars In The House of Plenty
Laist's theater pick for this weekend is John Patrick Shanley's haunting Beggars in the House of Plenty, a production of Vs. Theatre Company. Beggars is playing through Oct. 9th at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank. Shanley won the Tony and the Pulitzer for Doubt in 2005, and it's a great time to look at his earlier works. This one, in its West Coast premiere, still holds up as a theatrical masterpiece.
Shanley also wrote the screenplays for Moonstruck and Joe Vs. The Volcano, and fans of the strong emotions and quirky characters in those movies will get more trademark weirdness here. Beggars is a masculine show, perfect for the reluctant male theatregoers among us. It's a barrel full of violence, abuse, roughhousing, superstition, drinking, and cheap Catholic and Irish jokes. This autobiographical play mirrors almost every incident in playwright Shanley's bio, from getting kicked out of kindergarten and high school to growing up a young Irish kid in the Bronx.
Anchored by four towering performances from Eddie Jones (Pop), Annie Abbott (Ma), Johnny Clark (Johnny) and Jeffrey Stubblefield (Joey), Shanley's piece evokes a O'Neillian quartet of family dysfunction, complete with the young writer cowering under the madness.