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A good way to start


"Between a Cock and a Hard Place"
Written and Directed by Sam Stagg
At Dixon Place (161 Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002)
Friday, June 16 at 8:00 PM
Running Time: 1 hours
Reviewed by Remy.S June, 16, 2017

Everything has a start, even an artistic carreer. The problem is that when you start out in this occupation, you have to start with an absurd concept. Everybody around you (critics, producers, agents, directors) expects you to be a ten year veteram, to be famous at the starting point. I personally try to remember that beginners need to be seen more and helped more. That's why, when I had the opportunity to go to see the first professional show of a new talent, I chose to give it a shot. Because beginners need to be reviewed more than everybody else. That's how I discovered "Between a Cock and a Hard place," by Sam Stagg.

:"Between a Cock and a Hard Place" satirizes the male compulsion to be aggressive and violent as a means of asserting masculinity. Two overly confident amateur robbers, an unyielding mob boss and a blue collar criminal at the end of his rope collide with an innocent boy who is coerced into making a decision that will undoubtedly affect his life forever. The characters in this play comedically exemplify the toxic ways in which we define and understand masculinity. Leave your heavy clothes at home ‘cause it’s gonna get steamy in here!

An hour-long show, very short, but enough, as a first play, to discover Sam Stagg's universe: one inspired by Tarantino and Guy Richie's movies. The references to movies "Pulp Fiction," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" are obvious. Like these movies, the story is all about bad guys who are in fact just stupid good people who took the wrong road and now have to deal with serious problems. All the themes are there: guns, violence, sex (all the guns have dildos instead of barrels), cigarettes, murder… and always there is this irony, these sarcasms, this dark humor to show how stupid men can be when they want to pretend being tough and bad guys. Sam Stagg succeeds in creating these kind of characters with good dialogue that makes the audience laugh, and at the same time feel ashamed of laughing because it's mean. This is how dark comedy works. Bravo.

Sam Stagg is a much better writer than an actor. Luckily for him, he was surrounded by very good actors : Dan Foster and Kieron Anthony, in a wonderful duet, Michael Piazza, a curious character, and the Hilarious Eduardo Olmos, a Godfather of the 21st Century. I must mention Zachary Guttman, whom I discovered in "The Merry wives of Windsor" at Bryant Park two weeks ago, a wonderful young actor with a perfect sense of comedy: I really believe this Canadian actor is going to have an important carreer here in America, as he's very talented.

It wasn't perfect. The show lacks production values, well-designed lighting and a good ending. But it's a start, it's a good start. After seeing this first show, I'm looking forward to seeing the next one. Which is the best feeling that new talent can give to an audience. It is definitely a good start.

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