Fringe Festival play 'Trash' stretches
of the offerings in the New York International Fringe Festival are
billed as comedies, but at least one, “Trash,” stretches the definition
of comedy. The basic dictionary definition of comedy when used to
describe theater, or by extension, films and television, is “a dramatic
work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that
usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.”
“Trash” is billed as a comedy, but on its surface it seems more like a
drama. It is the story of three friends living in the junkyard they run
in the Ozarks (southwest Missouri). Two of these three are a couple
(actors Will Manning and Katie Gilchrist), and the third (Joseph Langham)
is the best friend of the man in the couple. Manning’s character, Bob,
faces a choice on whether to follow Melissa, who is rising in the ranks
of a convenience store chain from being just a clerk to managing three
new stores in Little Rock, Arkansas. But he feels tied to his small
Missouri town and his place as the third generation to run the junkyard.
He also bears an additional health burden of HIV, contracted in a very
unlikely way, that could lead to his eventual death.
don’t exactly sound like the ingredients of hilarious comedy, even with
comedic touches evident as the audience gets to know the characters. If
comedy still falls within the boundaries of dramatic work, however,
“Trash” does fit the definition, because for all the heavy subject
matter and conflict with the couple, the tone stays humorous, largely
due to the bits of business that illuminate who these characters are,
like Bob’s savant-like knowledge of every last item in the junkyard, or
Melissa’s knack for showing up every time the guys light up a joint.
it’s what Bob’s best friend does to entertain him and support him in a
situation where he has become viewed as the “town leper” that really
sustains a comedic tone. The playwright, David White, skillfully builds
up the friend’s construction of a mystery contraption in the junkyard to
provide the happy resolution of the central conflict of the stories of
these three people, making it a comedy in the end. And that end result
is a comedy that leaves the audience hopeful and optimistic for the
couple’s relationship as well.
“Trash” has four
remaining performances in the New York International Fringe Festival on
August 18 and 25-27.