85 East Fourth St. between Bowery & Second Ave.
Thursday - Saturday through October 19, $!8, 8:00
Three lonely losers, each one haunted by a single episode from their past that has defined their miserable lives, come together in Marc Spitz’s latest play, Revenge and Guilt. As the show opens, the nervous, jittery Cal (Peter Buck Dettmann) arrives in the ratty Long Island home of onetime local guitar hero Marvin “Major” Cohen (Tom Vaught). Just as Major seems to recognize Cal, Gina (Emily Russell) enters and cracks Major in the head with a liquor bottle, knocking him out. The story then shifts back in time to a dive bar where Cal and Gina, both broke, argue over whether they just had sex as well as debating the value of Cal’s prized watch. While Cal is tentative and unsure of himself, Gina is strong-willed and angry, ready to do whatever it takes to get out of her terrible situation. As they seemingly grow more comfortable with each other, they share the secrets that have been tearing them apart inside, and Gina comes up with a plan to rid Cal of his inner demon, involving going back to the scene of the “crime,” Major’s house, to finally right a wrong. Longtime music journalist Spitz, who has written such books as We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the ’90s, and How Soon Is Never? and such plays as The Rise and Fall of the Farewell Drugs, The Hobo Got Too High, and Your Face Is a Mess, makes his directorial debut with Revenge and Guilt, a well-written and solidly paced black comedy filled with musical references (the Clash, Gene Loves Jezebel, Thin Lizzy, Nirvana, Morrissey, Steely Dan). The title comes from a quote by Elvis Costello, who early in his career said, “The only two things that motivate me and that matter to me are revenge and guilt.” Both of those things figure prominently in the 105-minute play (with intermission), as all three characters blame a past event for their current failure. Vaught outshines his competent costars, giving a thoroughly convincing and entertaining performance as Major, a fading relic of a time gone by. Revenge and Guilt, which contains more than a few elements of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, is a thought-provoking work that just might make you look back into your own past and finally try to get over that one thing that has been stuck in your gut for years, because you definitely don’t want to wind up like Cal, Gina, or Major. (To read our twi-ny talk with Spitz from earlier this year, go here.)