The Earl

By Brett Neveu

the earl, danny goldring
The Earl

Directed by Duncan Riddell

Produced by The Inconvenience

At A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago

Bloody violent and depressing atmosphere marks The Earl

I usually don’t have as much anger and dislike for a play as I did for Brett Neveu’ s so-called comedy noir, The Earl.  Maybe it was the group of a dozen or so who loudly stated that they had seen The Earl several time since it has taken on a cult status already.  What upset me most about this group was the constant (and at times totally inappropriate) belly-laughing. I just couldn’t see any humor in a story of how three brothers annually play a most violent game that finds each inflicting physical pain on each other?

the earl, danny goldring

This 55 minute play seemed like 5 hours as the plot-less show depicts three dysfunctional brothers who can only relate to one another through highly ritualized violent games. Much of this show is a series of violent acts that finds the brothers trying to  trick each other as they whack each other with a tire iron. They slap punch, stomp, and kick each other by the convoluted rules that change at the whim of the moment. There is loads of blood from nose, ear, head,and belly wounds inflicted through some smart stage combat.

the earl, danny goldring

Again, I fail to appreciate any humor in such violence. I guess those who laugh must also get their yucks  by witnessing an auto crash! The absurdity of such behavior wears thin quickly.

the earl, danny goldring

One of the brothers enlists the help of  aging film star Lawrence Stephens, The Earl (Danny Goldring). The Earl is a Clint Eastwood type who seems much to0 long in the tooth to battle so effectively with Kent (Ryan Boutque) and Peter (Walter Briggs) yet he easily inflicts much verbal and physical pain as he plays the game with zest. Rick (Christopher Chmelik) is the ‘winning’ brother with The Earl’s help.

I just don’t get this show. I guess since I’ve witnessed several real life bloody scenes during my days with the Chicago Police, I don’t appreciate stage violence for the sake of violence.  This show isn’t for children or teens and I question who laughs at such vulgar raw violence? The sadistic, the disturbed, the voyeuristic? As a theatrical work, The Earl begs for more background and more story.  I can not find any value in this show. Maybe, those who laughed throughout can enlighten me as to what I’ve missed?

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: February 9, 2011

For full show information, check out The Earl page at Theatre In Chicago.

At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 Wells Street, Chicago, IL, call 773-658-4438,, tickets $15,  Sundays thru Wednesdays at 8 pm, running time is 55 minutes without intermission, through February 23, 2011