Tuesday, July 5, 2016

All the Best Killers are Librarians – by Bob DeRosa

L - R Mike Mahaffey, Jennifer C. DeRosa, Monica Greene, Pete Caslavka, Lauren Van Kurin, Eric Giancoli, Carrie Keranen - Photos Blake Gardner

By Joe Straw

“…and two, you dropped a 150 grand on a f*nkin’ education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at a public library.” – Will in Good Will Hunting

In her mind, her story had the appearance of being preposterous.  She couldn’t believe it herself.  The questioner’s inquiries to the questioned, under the bright spotlight, received responses that were hardly acceptable.  Still, she had to be interrogated.

She was presumed to be the assassin, this librarian, and now was the time for answers.  But, in order to get to the now we must go back to the beginning.  

The Establishment presents All the Best Killers are Librarians by Bob DeRosa, directed by Alicia Conway Rock, and produced by Jennifer C. DeRosa at The Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood, California as part of The Hollywood Fringe Friday July 1, 2015.

Margo (Lauren Van Kurin), a librarian, didn’t like working in the library.  It was better for her to stay in the back reading everything she could get her hands on.  Moving the books from the shelves required a lot of heavy lifting, and reading.  And placing the books back onto the shelves was a glute and quadriceps-tical experience - a little physical and disconcerting all in one fell exertion. Also, there was the mind over matter thing - reading, exercising the eyes and moving fingers like an Evelyn Wood speed-reader providing her with the learned fundamentals of whatever fundamentals she required in her next unknown big job.   

But there was this pesky head librarian, Eleanor (Jennifer C. DeRosa), with a strong north eastern accent, New Yawk, who was always on her about doing her job, collecting late fees, and working with ugly patrons of the library who, truth be said, were not the cleanest lot of a civilized society. Bottom line – Eleanor didn’t like it either.  

And because Eleanor was the head librarian she got more money than Margo, a dollar and some change more, ergo, she was the supervisor, and bossy too. Eleanor was the manager, and Margo was the complaining worker.

One is not completely sure how Lancaster (Eric Giancoli) knew Margo had the stuff.  I mean, how could he tell that she was a killer, and had the capacity?  It was probably a matter of his historical perspective.  One would imagine that Lancaster knew a killer librarian when he saw one and Margo looked like one, what with her arms, her legs, the killer stockings with the black stripes, and the way she blew at her tasseled hair when it fell onto her face - killer!   

So, Lancaster approached Margo, casually in the library, and said, ever so non-discreetly, that there were a couple of hired killers, behind her, staring blankly at the books.  And they were coming to get her.

Lancaster said that Margo needed to kill them before they killed her. There was no way out.

l - R Pete Caslavka, Lauren Van Kurin, Mike Mahaffey

Margo, in the most discreet way possible, flipped out. Seeing two assassins coming for her she prepared herself for the inevitable death – hers - either way it was going to be a tourbillion of physical activity for the next few moments.

And they came, the knives flew, and Margo was the last one standing.

Lancaster, the supposed genius of the bunch, and the leader of The Establishment, now convinces Margo to come to training camp and work out with people who have the capacity to take her out in a flash – kill her.  After a few setbacks Margo realizes there’s a lot of learning to be done.

“You kill when you are in mortal danger.” – Lancaster

“I want to build libraries.” Margo  

Margo wants to quit but instead is lifted onto a C-130 airplane, parachute attached.  This is something she’s not too thrill with, as she jumps into enemy territory and quickly dispatches three terrorists.  There, to clean up the bodies, is Henry (Pete Caslavka) with a gallon of acid to get rid of the fallen figures.  

Maybe it was the fumes from the acid, the chemical imbalance that affected their brains, but Henry and Margo suddenly fall madly in love even before they put on their gas masks.  

Pete Caslavka, Lauren Van Kurin

Meanwhile, off in a secure site, Lancaster believes that Margo is in love with him.  Who could resist someone as wonderful as him, but Margo has other ideas, she wants to leave her job to become a librarian, which eventually gets her into a lot of trouble.

There is a lot to like in Bob DeRosa fast moving play, which has a running time of just over 1 hour.  Despite all the killings, Killer Librarians is a comedy. The fight choreography by Mike Mahaffey was very inventive and kept knives flying into various body parts, and once the knives found their target the bodies flew in innumerable directions all night long.  

Alicia Conway Rock’s direction left no human carcass unturned as all bodies were discarded in very inventive ways. That said, Rock needs to find a way to turn Lancaster into a superhuman, in the way he thinks, and in the way he is persuasive.  Having Lancaster off stage on the phone could easily be done on stage under a spotlight without losing anything.  

Lauren Van Kurin plays Margo and is a wonderful actor with exceptional facial expressions that keep her in the moment. There is also a richness in her character, a flawless backstory, and uniqueness in her manner. Her craft is exceptional and the work is superb.

An interesting thing about Eric Giancoli as Lancaster is that he appears out of nowhere to give Margo the job of assassin.  Lancaster has thoughts that Margo is not going to make it as a killer and also has this weird idea that Margo has fallen in love with him. (This is possibly what all spies think.)  But Lancaster is no James Bond and one is not even sure if The Establishment is a legitimate spy organization judging by the ending. There is more for Giancoli to add to the character of Lancaster and his way of the world.

Pete Caslavka plays the love interest Henry.  Henry is one of identical triplets, two of which no longer reside on this earthly plain, and that is also part of the conflict in his relationship with Margo. That aside, Henry has little to do, sweep up and look adoringly at his mate, not much there, which is why there may be more to add to the character to give him flavor, to give the relationship a nicer touch, a deeper meaning.  

Jennifer C. DeRosa has a nice role as Eleanor, the head librarian.  There is more to this character that we find out later, something about the nature of true killer librarians, but I will not give the secret away. The fight scenes were amazing and DeRosa mixes it up with the best of them.

Carrie Keranen plays Crane and Mrs. White and provides character for those two roles. Crane’s relationships work well when the characters are nearer rather than across a long table. Naytheless, Keranen does a good job and presents solid, powerful, and amusing characters.  

Mike Mahaffey plays a number of Killers and Belinda, who is a cold war outcast, a ne’er to well from Moscow, or a miscreant from the Kremlin, and beautifully disguised with a babushka over his/her head.  

Monica Green rounds out the cast as Sally and another Killer. Greene is petite and does a lot of physical and magnificent work on stage.

The killers come and they go, well, actually they are killed.  They must have been a killer on another night, but on this night they were all killed. Oh, but they all died so magnificently.

Other members of the crew are as follows:

Matthew Richter – Lighting Design
Ben Rock – Sound Design
Rachel Manheimer – Stage Manager
Blake Gardner – Photographer

The next time it is around Run! Run! And take a ninja, or two.