vladeck by Jodi Miller, directed by Sarah Phillips, with Marcello Cabezas. Presented by macIDeas at Tallulah's Cabaret (12 Alexander). Runs to June 16, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Sunday 2 pm. $12-$16. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNN
Vladeck promises a no-punches-pulled exploration of the motivation and mentality behind teen violence, but rarely goes beyond superficial lacerations.Like Adam Pettle's recent Misha, it examines the fatal beating of an adolescent by a bunch of suburban thugs. But where Misha was written from the point of view of the victim's friend, playwright Jodi Miller imagines the perpetrator's perspective.
Pissed off by media coverage of the beating, Vladeck (Marcello Cabezas) videotapes his own version of events -- part confession, part COPS-style reality TV. He recounts the story over and over, wanting to get it right, and the facts change slightly with each telling.
The onstage camera makes us privy to different views, a metaphor for the story's multiple perspectives. It also comments on a generation brought up on Judge Judy and obsessed with celebrity culture.
Unfortunately, Miller never goes deep enough in her analysis, instead hitting the same points over and over. The motivation behind the beating itself reads more like a checklist of the stereotypical causes of youth violence than a glimpse of the mindset of a killer. Parental neglect? Check. Bullying? Check. Drugs? Check. And the hoped-for revelation at the end falls flat.
Still, she's got the tough-guy teen cadence dead-on, using Mametian "fucks" to hammer home points. And while sometimes heavy-handed, the script can also be quite moving.
Cabezas's nuanced performance helps. Well directed by Sarah Phillips, he uses nervous tics and subtle body language to portray a troubled kid who fronts like an adult but isn't ready to grow up.