"dark comedy laced with pathos"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 16/02/14

Arthur Przybyszewski, son of Polish immigrants runs a donut shop in Chicago. The play focuses on his relationship with his young African American assistant Franco Wicks who wants to update the shop and turn it into a place more suitable for students and intellectuals who are currently deserting the independent shop for Starbucks. Both have their own ideas about what constitutes The American Dream. He wants music and popular healthy foods. ’Poets can’t pay the rent but they can afford to drink coffee’. He also wants to smarten Arthur up so that he can woo the attractive policewoman Randy, but Arthur is resistant to personal change and likes the shop the way it is – with its strange assortment of regular patrons, The police officers Sarah Ball and Alexander James Simon and Lady Boyle – an old bag lady played by Amanda Walker.
Letts has written a darkly comic and witty script with a great assortment of characters and occasional soliloquies to audience by Arthur, telling of his past life. He is a radical pacifist - who evaded the draft, refused to go to war and thinks maybe he is a coward.
At the top of the play, vandals have broken into the shop, writing graffiti over the walls and breaking up the furniture. The police are called by his neighbour Max Tarazov from Russia who owns the video shop next door and wants to buy the donut shop in order to extend his empire. ’Donuts is like Videotape’ he says ‘It’s over’
Arthur is played by the very lovely Michael Mullen who has exactly the right laissez- faire attitude and appearance for the role and gives an outstanding performance. His assistant – student and writer, Marco is played by Jonathan Livingstone and he too is magnificently cast in this role – fearsome with a childlike energy and vital charisma.
Of course, they both have their setbacks, Arthur is unable to follow his dream and Marco is an addictive gambler and in trouble with mobsters – played by David Partridge as Luther and his brutal sidekick Kevin played by Tom Shepherd. They are both presentable men who only use force ‘when necessary’.
The diminutive Nick Cavaliere plays Max with a wonderfully funny Russian accent and he too has a sidekick, the exceptionally tall and blonde TJ Nelson.
The play is a comedy laced with pathos and violence with evocative design by Fly Davis and sensitively directed by Ned Bennett.

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