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Socks, Porn & Roses

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SOCKS, PORN & ROSES, Hermit Arts, at Prop Thtr. I feel responsible. Last September, when I reviewed Idris Goodwin's Sidewalk Etiquette, I took the playwright to task for being too timid, for not exploring all the absurd and satirical possibilities implicit in his premise. That play--in which a gentrifying yuppie dispenses with the niceties and just starts beating up his poorer neighbors--had the potential to be a lot more satisfyingly weird than it was.

Could it be that Goodwin listened to me? This new work is much weirder--and knows it. Only the weirdness isn't satisfying. In most respects it's just weird.

Called a one-act but really more of a short full-length play, Socks, Porn & Roses is a twisted heist story about some low-life street peddlers who band together to steal a rare and dangerous badger owned by a shadowy businessman and his ghoulish wife. Goodwin has some nice ideas here and there, particularly when it comes to characters like the relentlessly cheery but potentially homicidal Friend and the would-be thug Lord Spanish. But too much of what goes on here comes across as reaching: irrelevant, self-conscious, and therefore unfunny. And though I hate to seem like a Luddite, the video vignettes don't work either. Mr. Goodwin, if you're still listening, pull back a little on the weirdness. Don't force it; let it arise naturally from the material, then follow. Also, don't direct your own scripts. They need outside eyes. Steely, if possible.

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