Monday, April 04, 2022

The Patient a one-act play by Doug Holder and Lawrence Kessenich


The Patient a one-act play by Doug Holder and Lawrence Kessenich

Presa Press, 2019; re-issued, 2022 24 pages $8.00 ( Reissued by the Ibbetson Street Press  2022)   $10.

To order send check to Ibbetson Street Press 25 School St. Somerville, MA. 02143

Review by Denise Provost

The newly re-issued play “The Patient” is set in an unspecified year. Yet its era can be identified. It dates from the time of the seedy, down-at-the-heels Boston of not so long ago, when “affordable housing” often meant having a room in one of the area’s then-plentiful rooming houses.

For ambiance, think of the classic film “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” The Boston of that era felt as if it were being filmed in black and white. These seem to be the colors of the world inhabited by Leon, the play’s protagonist.

A graduate student by day, Leon works nights at a local mental hospital. Leon takes advantage of usually uncomplicated shifts to read assigned books. His work schedule’s flipping of night and day and its solitude fit in with his orderly life – at least they do until the evening which is at the heart of this play’s action.

Like Bobby, the central character in Stephen Sondheim’s oh-so-New-York-City musical “Company” – also enjoying a revival now – Leon is 35 years old. This age is traditionally a time for having some sort of identity crisis. Leon seems mostly detached from this particular emotional powder keg – until he meets his special duty patient on the night dramatized in this play.

The Patient is never given another name, but the magnitude of his personality makes up for his anonymity. If he is a “type,” it’s that of a streetwise, smartass townie. Not someone who rises quite to Eddie Coyle’s level of (by then weary) thuggery, but a guy not above boosting merchandise from the back of a truck, or receiving stolen goods, say.

I’m not going to introduce spoilers into this review. Let’s just say that the Patient knows how to wind up Leon and spends the evening enjoying this sport. Their conflict is mediated only by the intervention of the Head Nurse, Sibyl, while no Nurse Ratched, is clearly the authority figure asserting herself between the two squabbling men.

“The Patient” is a good read. It would be fun to perform, or to see performed. Or even to read aloud with a couple of friends – since fictional dramas have a way of illuminating those of our lives.

***** Denise Provost is a retired state representative from Massachusetts, and the author of : City Stories  ( Cervena Barva Press)

No comments:

Post a Comment