REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Earl

By Brett Neveu

the earl, danny goldring

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

13 thoughts on “The Earl

  • Denise

    I am a 53 year old woman and I found the show funny, shocking, and, in it’s final moments, very touching.
    Maybe your days as a corrupt Chicago PD officer blinded you to the very, very, very wonderfully fake stage combat. It’s simply not real, honey.
    These boys seemed to find violence as a release–none of them died, and all seemed happy about the outcome.
    Also, I’m positive that ‘long in the tooth’ Danny Goldring could kick your butt!
    Loosen up!

  • Your reference to me as having been “a corrupt Chicago PD” speaks to your ignorance and stupidity. It also speaks to my theory that ignorant women who probably don’t get enough action find the show stimulating. Your insults reflect your crassness and lack of class. Go back to your trailer park.

  • Shannon

    Hey Admin, The end of your review states: “Maybe, those who laughed throughout can enlighten me as to what I’ve missed?” so you should not attack those who comment and try to give you an answer. I laugh for lots of reasons when I see a play and one of those is appreciation for the acting and combat I am seeing unfold. I had fun at The Earl in watching the execution of these aspects and also the blood and gore work. If we like horror movies and the macbre, according to you we are sick in the head or are lacking something in our lives. Maybe you are just lacking a sense of humor.

  • random reader

    You just called a 53 year old woman trash and told her to go back to the trailer park for not agreeing with your onsided, personally effected review. who has no class?

  • I just don’t find blood and gore funny.

  • I was particularly offended by that women referring to me as “a corrupt Chicago police officer.” She implies that all Chicago police officers are corrupt. That is so offensive that I had to respond. If she is an educated sophisticated lady all the worse for her for making that remark.

  • Dylan

    I was directed to this website because of your “trailer trash” comment.
    I’m an avid theatre goer, and will spread the word about your harsh, juvenille and uncalled for statements to this woman.
    You can not, I repeat NOT speak about women in this fashion.

  • Woah, hey. Why do we gotta bring trailer parks into this? Denise may have crossed the line with her comment, but as a professional, you aught to be more considerate when throwing around personal insults that make cheap, broader assumptions about class. And what’s this about your “theory of ignorant women?”

  • I was speaking only to the women who made the remark that I was a “corrupt Chicago police officer.” That so outraged to me that I thought that only an ignorant person would refer to police officers as ‘corrupt.’ You should address that sweeping generalization. Would you classify her statement as harsh, juvenile and uncalled for?

  • I was referring to her attack against Chicago police officers. I believe that only ignorant folks believe all officers are corrupt. That statement needs to be addressed. Many of my friends have told me that I should not respond or post such comments but I felt so hurt by that outrageous generalization that I needed to reply. I have never been one to let a personal insult go without replying. Please address her personal insult to the brave men and women who serve us as police officers. I’ll never be “more considerate” when dealing with those who insult ALL police officers. Why do you defend such ignorance? When one makes such insults, one should expect a strong reply.

  • Barry

    Cool off with a nice icy Ginger-Ale, Rom. I know plays and women are scary.

  • I’m probably closer to the reviewers age and can understand his point a little better. However, although I found the violence in this show to be a little sickening at times it was nonetheless humorous, well planned and immensely entertaining. My wife gave the example of the 3 Stooges if Moe’s hits had been more effective. Nobody died, Mr. Goldring was phenomenal and the entire audience (as it seems they did during your viewing too, Tom) enjoyed it immensely. I don’t claim to have any special affinity for the macabre and my wife can be positively squeamish about these sorts of shows, but nonetheless we had a fabulous (albeit sometimes cringeworthy) time. Perhaps this play is not for those so affected by their years of service like you had in the CPD. Neither should many plays, I would imagine though and if it affects your judgement I would think you would recuse yourself from the position of reviewer. Perhaps, Tom, this is a sign that you may have drifted a little out of step of the average theatre-goer.

  • I generally don’t see shows like The Earl and many of my fellow reviewers did pass on seeing The Earl. But, since I did see the show, I had to review it. Many of us reviewers NEVER want to be instep with the average theatre goer. I see over 300 plays per year (for the past 9 years) so the very fine ones and the horrible ones really stand out. Every reviewer who is honest in their reviews occasionally dislikes a work that is popular with the average theatre goer. This is one of mine. Privately, I know of several critics who wrote positive reviews but privately hated the show as much as I did. You’ll always get my opinion but I’ll surly tone down my comments. I have yet to have anyone take THAT woman to task for calling me a corrupt police officer. This is the last posting on this play.

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