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“Dark Play or Stories for Boys” by Carlos Murillo: A Kick in the Throat That You’re Thankful For

February 2, 2009

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Dark Play kicks off with Nick (Jesse Pepe), a college student, speaking to the audience. He seems very surprised and slightly confused at himself and his current situation. He seems to be asking himself, ‘How did I get here?’, not in an actual physical sense but in circumstantial sense relative to where he was five years ago.

He’s currently in college, living on his own in the dorms, and has a girlfriend (Gabi Caro), which doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, no huge drama there. But the reason Nick is so taken aback is because, according to Nick, Nick is not normal but a deviant who lies-who, “makes shit up,” and the story of how he got here doesn’t seem normal either. As he and his girlfriend get more intimate she notices several scars of varying length across his abdomen. “Nick, what are these scars?” Now Nick is faced with a choice: Tell her the truth or continue to “make shit up.”

In the moment of Nick’s decision you’re taken back to when he was 14 years old. In high school he has a lesbian drama teacher (Brenda Sue Cowley) who has a hilarious mullet and a paranoid fixation on the “DARK!” and “DANGEROUS!” She explains a game to the students called “Dark Play,” a game where some of the participants know they’re playing a game and others don’t.

The mind of an adolescent is incredibly active. The increased neural activity coupled with the increased physical prowess clashing with the overpowering hormones, the possibility of sex and the convoluted desire to become autonomous and make a mark in this world make for some rough teenage times. Technology and the internet, of course, factor into this incredibly complex equation to add a dimension of infinite possibilities-a window to the world, the majestic beauty of it and also the sordid filth of it, “DARK!” and “DANGEROUS!”, if you will.

Nick started his “dark play” in a chat room with a naïve 16 year old named Adam (Michael Gardner). Adam was looking for love in a girl who “loves to chill.” What he found was Rachel (Gabi Caro), a fictional girl, conjured up by Nick, who was a step below too good to be true. Time passes, manipulation continues, love ensues, and in this twisted love triangle it looks as though all will be crushed by this runaway “dark play.”

This play has Sir Walter Scott’s, “O what tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”, written all over it. Yet I saw more themes to this conflicted, deep, and shocking play; adolescence is a transitory nexus between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers, twisted in their overpowering libidos and a hundred thousand neurons firing from synapse to synapse, with the force of canons, all inside this young person’s brain often times do things they would never do during childhood or adulthood. Sometimes it’s courageous and benevolent, and other times it may be egoistic and malevolent.

Dark Play portrays the conflict and possibilities of adolescence in an intimately lucid manner. All the actors were excellent in their depth, conflict, and hilarity. Speaking of “hilarious,” let me end by mentioning Jay Perry. Jay, like several of the actors, played more than one character, and Mr. Perry, seriously, cracked me up every time he was on stage-save one character he played which was actually not funny at all but threatening and scary.

One last note: “Dark Play” is about a teenager, however, I wouldn’t recommend a young teenager watch it. Mature audiences will understand and appreciate Dark Play far more than younger people. This play is beautifully directed by Tobin Atkinson who flawlessly nailed every aspect of this complicated production.

Article By; Noel Koons

Salt Lake Acting Company’s Dark Play or Stories for Boys by Carlos Murillo:

Plays from January 28th-February 22nd.

Ticket Info: (801)-363-7522

Prices: Range from $13 for Students to $32

Salt Lake Acting Company’s Box Office:

168 West 500 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84103-1762

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