(Stephen Buescher and William Thomas Hodgson in Ken Slattery's play about commedia dell'arte characters. Photo by Jessica Palopoli.)
In my review of Truffaldino Says No, at Shotgun, I decided not to discuss what I thought was a major problem: an uncompelling title character.
The reason why is that I had two other important points to make, one positive, one negative, and once I'd written those out, the review already reflected my mixed reaction. Did I really need to tip the balance further toward critical in the interest of being thorough?
It's possible that I could have addressed the issue without devoting a whole new paragraph to it. I thought Truffaldino the character started out okay: He's stuck in a role in a world that limits him, and he decides to break out of it. But he's so wishy-washy about what exactly he does want that I felt like I was listening to a college student complain about his parents. (It takes one to know one, though.) What's more, I felt William Thomas Hodgson's performance added little depth to the part. He amped up the whining rather than play his character's adult sadness and anger. Perhaps such a characterization would have felt out of place in a comedy, but the whining wasn't even funny compared to the choices the other characters made.
Now that I've written down these thoughts, I feel a little bit better about the choice I made in the original review. The flaw I decided to focus on there might actually include what I've written about here.
Truffaldino Says No has been extended through July 29; info here.