Metro Weekly - November 13, 2003
Someone bounced Jeff Goode's reality check. The celebrated playwright of such raw works as The Eight: Reindeer Monologues and Poona the Fuckdog and Other Plays for Children is angry, and perhaps justifiably so. His psyche goes under the microscope in full magnification in Cherry Red's world premiere production of Anger Box.
Sometimes funny, but always politically incorrect, Goode writes with a pen-as-sword mentality, leaving no group unscathed, no person without offense. His ten solo pieces shrewdly examine various facets of opinions on Christianity and other faith-based ideology with humor and boundless voracity. His monologues converge as one long rant, courtesy of ten "Pissy Peeps. " From a moody prostitute sleeping with Satan ("Yes, he's rough, but so is the commute ") to his psychopath virgin waiting to rock the Pope's world ("Celibacy sucks ass "), Goode's characters offer skewed perspectives on the realities of life in America and elsewhere.
Director Michelle T. Hall's production is straightforward, treating the material with a traditional approach when it should be anything but. Goode's script offers endless staging opportunities, but Hall's actors seem confined by the bare space and inhibited by the box itself. The point is missed on a lot of talking heads.
The best scenes of the evening are delivered by Ian Allen in a dry, non-theatrical piece on non-believers; Tony Greenberg's hilarious Jesus freak cum elfin Santa worshipper; and, in the funniest turn, of the evening, Monique LaForce as a tyrannical Nike, goddess of victory (you know, she did come before the shoe). LaForce offers the most conviction as the narcissistic champion who claims, "This Jesus kid -- he plays a good game, " and "There was a period during the Trojan War when I was named 'Most Popular Deity' seventy-nine weeks in a row. Let's see Britney do that! "
Anger Box is not without its earnest questioning: Kathleen Akerley offers the best artistic interpretation in the provocative "This Rock, " a monologue about God's ability to test faith during and after the World Trade Center attacks. Akerley's beautiful but startling moment of sobriety is the redemptive savior in the final piece of the evening.