- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

At some point in “The Glory of Living” it hits you — these are people with whom you wouldn’t share a bag of pork rinds, let alone spend a few hours.

So why are we here again? Oh yes, to support that business we call “show.” The institution of theater gets a whupping in “The Glory of Living,” a tribute to trailer trash which is such a putrid waste of time and talent it makes a convincing argument for watching “American Choppers” or zoning out with an IPod rather than patronizing the dramatic arts.

Not much glorious about Rebecca Gilman’s 2001 drama, inexplicably nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Miss Gilman, so persuasive in her depiction of people at less than their best in the plays “Boy Gets Girl” and “Spinning Into Butter,” is off her game with “The Glory of Living,” which is little more than a staged snuff film.

The play depicts the fallout from a bad childhood and even worse grammar as embodied in the character of Lisa (Casie Platt), who is the 15-year-old spawn of a prostitute (Maura Stadem) when we first meet her. Lisa sits glumly watching TV while in the same room her mother services a man she met on her CB radio.

Lisa is a blank screen, a patch of unmarked dirt, and it is no surprise when Clint (Clay Steakley), a car thief with sweaty charm, latches onto her. Some tawdry motel sex and a couple of kids later, they are man and wife, a glamour-free “Dukes of Hazzard” version of Bonnie and Clyde.

Clint isn’t a one-man woman, and Lisa is only too willing to oblige his roving eye by procuring a series of very young girls for his nightly pleasure. The next day, she indifferently kills them, and they move on.

Act One is an endless cavalcade of depravity, as one nubile and scantily clad girl after another is brought to a motel room to be raped by Clint. After more than an hour of this, you pray that there is something to “The Glory of Living” beyond the cheap shock tactics, something — anything — redeeming.

During intermission, you want to be autoclaved.

The second act shows the consequences of Lisa and Clint getting caught, and scene after scene of pedestrian police and courtroom procedures follow. The lack of remorse on Lisa’s part is not disturbing, merely insipid. Watching the authorities and lawyers trying to get some sort of reaction out of Lisa is like coercing a lump of pizza dough into telling you where it buried Jimmy Hoffa.

Miss Platt is a promising actress and depicts Lisa’s listless life of crime with fixed conviction. Mr. Steakley has moments of jittery, menacing charisma as her lowlife swain, but the notion that so many girls find him irresistible is rather a stretch.

With “The Glory of Living,” Miss Gilman presents a portrait of evil as emptiness. One assumes we are to feel sorry for Lisa as she vacantly faces the electric chair, but instead one is left devoutly hoping that Old Sparky is juiced up and ready to go.

Anything to put her — and us — out of our misery.


WHAT: “The Glory of Living” by Rebecca Gilman

WHERE: Didactic Theatre at the Warehouse Theater Mainstage, 1017 7th St., NW

WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Through June 11

TICKETS: $15 to $20

PHONE: 202/249-0782


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