The saying goes, “Revenge is a dish best-served cold.” It is sometimes an easy, quickly prepared dish and other times constructed over time with great patience and care. Depending upon the chef’s character, it can be one of fulfillment and resolve, but more often, it is a bleak and empty reprise of the things that led to the dish’s preparation, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of the chef.
Bringer of Doom, written by Joe Thristino and smoothly directed by Mark Koenig, is a comedy about Lotte and her effort to exact revenge against her estranged mother, Esme, because of a public humiliation her mother inflicted. She uses an ex-comedian, Demetrius, or more precisely, a no-longer-performing comedian, as the waiter to serve her revenge, cold, but with a measure of spice. His job is to “roast” Lotte’s mother with clever rejoinders and barbed put-downs when she comes for dinner at Lotte’s apartment. He is to make her highly uncomfortable without causing her to leave.
Lotte, the aggrieved daughter and the architect of the revenge scheme, is beautifully played by Bimini Wright with a sweetness that conceals the anger driving her effort to destroy her mother. Peter Kendall is the alcoholic, maybe former comedian Demetrius who, early on, knows what he is supposed to do but is struggling to figure out exactly how to accomplish it.
These two actors work seamlessly throughout the show to effectively engage the audience in the goings-on and establish an apparent rapport between their characters. Their timing is precise in delivering comedic elements while effectively laying the groundwork, from the very beginning, of what is to come next in the story.
The first of these “next in the story” actions is the appearance of Lotte’s narcissistic mother, Esme, stylishly and convincingly embodied by Bridget Ann White, accompanied by Esme’s “boy-toy.” This male attachment is Clancy, depicted by Jed Peterson in surprising and effective ways that add important comedic elements to the play and lead to some of the more dramatic moments.
Before the “roasting” can begin, Esme announces that she and Clancy are getting married. It is an announcement that triggers Lotte’s desire for revenge even more. She begins to urge Demetrius to get more into the roasting, but before he can get fully engaged, something unexpected happens in the apartment, and only Lotte knows the reason.
The event is so powerful that it changes the character of the gathering in ways that none of the participants can clearly process. As Lotte’s and Esme’s attitude toward each other begins to change, Demetrius becomes more clearly focused on what is happening and what he feels he must do to balance the situation. At this moment, Clancy delivers a big surprise and moves the story’s arc in an entirely new direction with some funny observations, followed by sobering and thoughtful musings.
The uncredited set is designed to show key areas of an apartment in New York City, and given the limitation of the stage area in the small black box theater, it works well. The only exception is nothing to represent a window when opening a window is used as a key element in the production.
The lighting design by Zach Dulny is effective in helping to define scenic elements as the action moves from point to point. It is generally considered that lighting that calls attention to itself is not a good design. Still, in a small theater, the lighting often becomes an important element in the structure of the production, and when done well, it is worthy of being noted.
Bringer of Doom is a well-structured play with believable and engaging characters. However, some moments need rethinking, such as the amount of alcohol consumed during the play. Anyone drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time would become comatose. Although Bridget Ann White finds an effective balance in her characterization of Esme, how the character is written could easily have been overplayed as a caricature of a self-absorbed rich woman. The same risk of overacting exists for Peter Kendall, who sometimes comes perilously close to overdoing the alcoholic behavior of Demetrius.
Bringer of Doom (through April 23, 2023)
Skimble Skamble Productions
The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 646-430-5374 or visit http://www.bringerofdoomtheplay.com
Running time: one hour and 40 minutes without an intermission