The Vast Difference
George Noonan (David Bendena), a middle-aged man on the verge of a vasectomy, is trying to sort out his rational fears of aging and impotence from his irrational fears of castration, all the while--whoops, here comes 1993--trying to make sense of this crazy world where the gals are doctors and the guys are flight attendants! Were we really getting our knickers in a twist about men serving drinks on planes and women wearing lab coats? I guess we were, because Robert Bly and his early-nineties agenda to reattach men to their primordial masculinity wanders into this play and stays awhile--here he's called Richard Bergman, played by the aforementioned Drew Parker. With so much of what time blessedly forgot about 1993 baked into the script, it sometimes seemed no more than a puzzling time capsule of a show.
Yet I enjoyed it. Irrelevant as The Vast Difference is, it bubbles and sings. It helps to think of it not as a coherent piece but as a series of short unrelated sketches. Every male who parades his singular set of talents across the stage is stellar, from the rubber-faced David Bendena, who can convincingly play a ten-year-old version of his middle-aged self, to Eyde and Drew Parker (who have multiple roles), to Richard McWilliams' small-town barber, played with droopy understated charm and wit.
The play ends its run on December 14.
[Originally published in November, 2013.]