Entries in John Giampietro (1)





Ensemble Studio Theatre, founded in 1968, has nurtured numerous new talented playwrights and brought off the wall ideas to their intimate stage on West 52nd Street.  One such piece is Year of the Rooster, which was first developed in 2012 and returned in October of last year with a full scaled production, lengthened and fleshed out.  The production was a hit and has recently been extended through February 2nd.  Written by EST's own Youngblood playwright Eric Dufault, Rooster follows a sad sack McDonalds employee Gil Pepper (Thomas Lyons) who longs to move from behind the fast food counter and into the local cockfighting scene, which is pretty much owned by Dickie Thimble (Denny Dale Bess), a rich business owner who seems to have his hand in everything.  But Gil's secret weapon is his Punk costumed inspired Odysseus Rex (Bobby Moreno).  Odysseus is angry, hungry, and ready to dominate everything, including taking down that annoying beast that is "The Sun."  Rounding out the cast is Delphi Harrington as Gil's homebound mother Lou and Megan Tusing playing both Gil's teenage boss at McDonalds and a genetically modified hen brought home for Odysseus so he can make even more little prizefighters.  Love it or hate it, you can't say Dufault's script isn't original.


Moreno, as the plucky cockfighter, is thoroughly engaging and livens up every single scene he steps into.  We get to hear all of his inner monologues, which range from the inspired to chaotic and then simply hilarious.  Bess is also quite good as the man in charge.  His speeches are charmingly off putting and he knows just how to grab your attention and keep a hold of it.  Simply slaying every scene she appears in is Tusing as Philipa, the McDonalds foul mouthed manager, and the really overweight hen from the McDonalds farm.  Her comic timing is perfection and her powerful arc for Philipa is the strongest in the show.  Where Act I is almost sublime perfection, Act II sadly falters, never really connecting the full arc it wants for its schlub of a hero Gil.  Lyons is charmingly affected when he's a sad sack, but doesn't quite make you believe as he grows more confident.  Harrington is a lovely actress who does the most with a character that never really goes anywhere (literally).  That being said, Year of the Rooster is strikingly original, and is well worth your time to see this young playwright invite you into a world that you haven't been before.  Unless you do attend cockfights in your spare time, which in that case, you'll finally get to hear what goes on in those crazy cock's heads.


Written By Eric Dufault Directed By John Giampietro Starring Thomas Lyons, Bobby Moreno, Denny Dale Bess, Megan Tusing, Delphi Harrington  Closes on  February 2nd at Ensemble Studio Theatre (549 West 52nd Street, NYC)

Mateo’s Grade: B

Bottom Line: Original and a nearly flawless first act that dives into a inconsistant second.  Well worth the price for Moreno and Tusing's performances alone.