Gambit Weekly

Tuesday June 06, 06
by Dalt Wonk,

Another original work is on the boards at the Actor's Theatre of New Orleans. Rene Piazza not only wrote Two 4 the Road, he also directed it (with an assist from Chelle Duke) and he appears in it. Two 4 the Road is not a play, it's a sampler of 15 short scenes. Some are comic skits, some are mini-dramas. The whole thing is performed by four agile actors -- Lucas Harms, Michael Santos, Michael Sullivan and Piazza. Needless to say, the cast gets quite a workout with so many and such varied characters.

To comment, even briefly, on each of these scenes would require a lot of ink. The situations range from the real to the fantastic. In Display of Emotions, for instance, two male department store dummies plan a tryst with two lady dummies upstairs in "swim suits." In other skits, we visit the antechambers of hell and of heaven. On the real side, we watch a high school reunion where a former bully is confronted by his former victim and we see a regular Joe beg forgiveness from a friend who has been comatose in a hospital bed for six months, since the regular Joe crashed their car into a truck while drunk at the wheel.

Two 4 the Road is uneven. There are peaks, where the writing and acting come together and draw us in. There are valleys, where things don't quite work. Curiously, these peaks and valleys are scattered through both the serious and comic skits. Sometimes, in fact, they are scattered in a single skit. But, the show is a bold departure for Piazza, who has mostly given us spoofs and mostly appeared on stage as a comic character. Here he stretches. He takes chances.

Two 4 the Road could use trimming and focusing. A "best of" version (with, say, the weakest one-third left on the cutting room floor) is intriguing to contemplate.