These were but a few of the questions that filled my mind as I stumbled, dazed, out of American Misfit, a new musical by Dan Dietz now playing at The Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena. Telling the tale of the Harpe Brothers, two post-revolutionary terrorists who ravage the land in the hopes of resurrecting a lost cause, the play seems particularly poignant given the recent trouble in Boston. But, this play doesn’t focus on terrorism or even death as a theme (though there are definitely a few throughout). Rather, it explores the concept of our national identity, through their story with the occasional soliloquy from stalwarts of American history all while keeping the music of a 1950s-style dance hall thumping throughout. The tunes (music by Dietz & Phillip Owen) are toe-tapping and engaging, and make it hard not to sing along. A tip of the hat should be given to the sound designer, Martin Carrillo. Sound effects are seamlessly woven throughout and never obtrusive, but rather serve to make the world rich and better fleshed out. So few theater shows know how to do that, and it warrants a mention.
In the end, what makes this show so powerful is not its ability to rock, or the quick-step choreography, or even the solidly effervescent performances of the actors, but rather the show’s ability to find the subtle turns, the quiet moments against a backdrop of chaos, death, and the booming of the drum. This show is life.
And, like any great work of art, it leaves you not with answers but with questions that you feel should urgently be discussed.
And then, it leaves you in silence.
American Misfit plays through May 12, and you can find more information at www.bostoncourt.com. You can catch the show for a special discounted price (cash/check only at the door) on May the 8th.