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Arts and Entertainment

'Goose and Tomtom' is a Surrealist, Hilarious, Mind-Fuck of a Play

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Jessica Variz, Paul Knox, and Matthew Anderson in 'Goose and Tomtom' (photo by freshframafoto.com)
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David Rabe's surrealist, hilarious, mind-fuck of a play, Goose and Tomtom, is playing at Garage Theatre in Long Beach. Through poetic dialogue and lurid hypersensitivity, Rabe throws together life's simple pleasures and the great unexplained mysteries of the universe in the dilapidated, violence-plagued apartment of two small-time jewel thieves. This Garage Theatre production is perfectly executed with superb performances, excellent direction and a fascinating set.

While many moments of the play are clearly meant to be intuitively experienced rather than fully understood, Goose and Tomtom remains a wild, high-energy ride through plot and action. Rabe's central characters Goose and Tomtom get mixed up in all sorts of disturbing trouble in their quest to win the heart of their sadistic object-of-affection, Lorraine. Throughout their one-room adventure, Goose and Tomtom become increasingly drunk and delusional. Their friendship remains solid, deep and life-affirming despite several rounds of paranoid, sex-infused crime.

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Robert Edward and Matthew Anderson in 'Goose and Tomtom' (photo by freshframafoto.com).
The cast of Goose and Tomtom gives a performance that is so immensely exhilarating and pleasurable to watch that the audience's story-processing brain parts start to explode from overexposure to sustained theatrical, philosophical and comedic acuity. Paul Knox (Tomtom) and Matthew Anderson (Goose) are outstanding leads. They perform in tandem with their entire selves to fully own their roles. Knox and Anderson morph from intense and bitingly funny criminally-minded buffoons to gentle, sympathy-drawing sophist within single moments with the greatest of ease and heart-wrenching complexity. Jessica Variz makes perverse cruelty an art form in and of itself as she revels in the role of Lorraine. Playing the ill-fated incestuous lover-siblings Bingo and Lulu, Robert Edward and Kristal Greenlea cull genuine empathy from their emoted sadness, gracious desperation, and disturbingly resigned compassion.

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Director Eric Hamme has crafted a seemingly magical, utterly irresistible staging of Goose and Tomtom out of the Garage Theatre little enclave. Hamme's frantic, hyper-real direction culminates to give the audience an engaging and otherworldly night of theatre. The no-hold affinity that Hamme feels for this play is beyond evident through his careful attention to detail and inspired orchestration -- qualities that serve the audience well. The behind the scenes work of Curtis Jerome (set and costuming), Rob Young (set), and Michael Stokesberry (lighting) brings style and somber beauty to Goose and Tomtom's grungy and humble abode.

Goose and Tomtom is playing through May 19 at Garage Theatre. Tickets are available online or via phone at 866-811-4111.