Happy (second) opening to Walt, Bevin, Greg, Anthony, Gigi, Marc, and the rest of the Brawler team at Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca!
Ancient Greece is not the obvious starting point for a play about ice hockey, but that’s where Brawler began, because sometimes playwriting is weird. I read Sophocles’ Ajax in graduate school at BU, in a translation by Bryan Dorries which was specifically geared towards soldiers returning from the Middle East. Dorries’ reasons for such a translation were clear: Sophocles, though most remembered as a dramatist, was a general as well, and because military service was compulsory in Grecian society, his plays were originally performed to audiences full of soldiers. With that in mind, it’s clear that Ajax is not a story about gods and destiny, but about a soldier struggling to survive after a war is over, and feeling abandoned by his commanders once he is no longer useful.
While that interesting bit of trivia rattled around in my brain, I also read something else: a New York Times article about Derek Boogaard, the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers player who, in 2011, died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, and became one of a number of hockey “enforcers” to suffer similar fates in a short timeframe. Here was another story about a warrior cast aside, which caught my interest. Boogaard’s story collided with Ajax’s in my brain, and just like that, a play was born. More
Review from WBUR's The ARTery
Walt McGough’s new play “Brawler” — playing through March 18 at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre — works too hard at first to keep its story moving, but scores in the end.
Pro hockey player Adam (Greg Maraio) — known affectionately to his teammates as Moose — goes berserk in a hockey arena locker room one night after a romantic evening of skating around on the ice with his girlfriend Trisha (Gigi Watson). He’s a powerful guy, and the havoc he wreaks is extensive. (Props to scenic designer Cristina Todesco, whose sets are always beautiful to behold. In this case, even wreckage seems eloquent.) The damage Adam does to the locker room is the least of the problems his outburst creates; his pal Jerry (Marc Pierre), the arena’s security guard, is on the hot seat for having let Adam and Trisha into the place for their private pleasure.