Slacker bromance a cohesive, entertaining production
The hundred or so people that crowded into Chabot’s Little Theater on the past chilly, rainy Saturday night were treated to “Emerging Work,” the four latest original student plays presented by Chabot’s School of the Arts. Those that stayed till the end were rewarded with an excellent production named “Extra High School,” written and directed by Chabot student Nicholas Alexander Gomez.
“Extra High School” centers around the adventures of James (Tim Romano-Pugh) and Dave (Robby Wagner), two single, friendly stoners who sit around and drink cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon, take endless rips off their six foot bong, and argue about whether “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings” was the better trilogy.
Both men are honorary Gladiator lifers having spent six consecutive years enrolled at Chabot, and their calling in life is serving as roadies for their favorite thrash metal band “Final Warning.” The band, fronted by their buddy Jesse (Seveonno Palizzolo) and his inseparable girlfriend Cody (Laura Santillan), prepares for “Final Warning’s” evening show.
Gomez’s real life band “Zombie Holocaust” provided all of the incidental music during the show and played the role of “Final Warning” during the show scene, which included an up tempo, hard-rocking cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.” A music label representative is on hand to witness the performance and soon “Final Warning” is offered a deal, prompting a celebration from the group.
The party continues at the bar after the show, and after noticing a woman sitting by herself at the bar the friends encourage James to make a move. Unfortunately her none-too-pleased boyfriend emerges from the shadows, and following a well deserved “mat shot” bought by the crafty Dave for the seething boyfriend, tempers flare as a second heavy enters. The scene ultimately ends in an exchange between all six participants.
The audience became especially excited when Cody opened the proceedings by landing a precise high kick on the jaw of one of the tough guys!
Unlike the two other productions I saw, which were long, pointless monologues with multiple confusing plot twists, “Extra” relied on an easy to follow, if somewhat predictable, plot that nearly everyone in attendance could relate to – the friends that you had the best of times with during high school and college grow up, start wearing suits to work, and move on with their lives.
The audience could feel the pain in the body language of James and Dave when Jesse announces that he’s moving to Los Angeles with Cody to pursue their careers, and in turn when Dave tells James he’s moving back to Florida (“America’s wang,” as Dave favorably refers to it) to be closer to his family and finally transfer to new pastures.
It was an excellent performance all around and certainly deserves another airing past the three shows at the Little Theater. I had the feeling that I was watching a replay of all of the nights out I had in the past, and I felt like I was involved in the story itself – the self-contained, believable world created that separates the best productions from the others.
It was clear that a lot of love had been invested by everyone involved in the story: from the impeccably detailed “Extra High School” graffiti lowered over the stage during the initial setup, and the creative use of the stage space and aisles to tell the story, to the effortless relationship between the lead characters.
The story effectively covered all of the feelings associated with such a tale – joy, despair, anger, hope – and as any good story should conclude, everything ends up working out for the best.