Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Head Hunter


Mark Borkowski’s so-called comedy The Head Hunter is about a mobster who decapitates people, and his cousin, a writer who’s been cheated out of a screenplay. It’s been produced recently by Termination Productions. 

The action takes place in the writer’s apartment. The tough-guy cousin is determined to convince his kin to let him handle the problem with the screenplay his own way. As he is a mobster who decapitates people, you can imagine what that is.

There’s potential here. During the course of the play the unsavory relative reveals some pretty alarming secrets to his nice-guy cousin. Unfortunately, Borkowski has loaded the play with such a virulent string of obscenities that it’s obscured beneath a blanket of vulgarity. It gets tolerably better after the intermission, when there’s at least some interesting dramatic action. By that time Borkowski has essentially exhausted the lexicon of smut.

The Head Hunter is served better than it deserves by the other talented artists involved. The set, brimming with walls of books, is skillfully designed. It’s a tawdry apartment but there’s a poetry to the stage picture.

The director is uncredited, which is unfortunate since he enhances the script considerably. He keeps things moving, thus relieving us fairly quickly of the scatology we’ve been subjected to. What’s more, he mines whatever drama he can find in the script by directing his two actors into tight, clear performances. His blocking on the small stage is clear, and the stage picture is always telling.

Of the two actors, it’s Robert Mobley, as the victimized writer, who gives the stronger performance, and it is indeed quite good. His focus is always clear. The criminal cousin shocks him repeatedly, and Mobley’s reactions are believable and, remarkably, emotionally grounded.

As the foul-mouthed organized crime fellow, Salvatore Inzerillo is convincing, by no means shabby. But his range of emotion is limited in a role that actually could give him opportunity for subtlety.

Actors, director and designer are to be admired, but they’d do well to find better material to show their talents.