Octopus: How Far Will You Go?; Café StarBrokes

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on May 30, 2008

Young Hormones go down a dangerous path in the revealing story about two couples, who after living with each other for some time, decide that it would spice up their domestic partnerships by having a four-way. Three is bad enough, but with four hands, legs and torsos tumbling about on a bed, someone is going to be left out. This momentary evening of lust is now just the beginning of the mental horrors that will begin to haunt them …

Men can be such shits, don’t you think? After the deed is done, someone is always jealous. The partner invariably asks – “why did you do that?” Or – “Why didn’t you stop me?” Hey — it was the guy that suggested it, that is asking the questions.

The play “Octopus” is done in real time for the most part, but then it really gets bizarre and nightmarish when later in the play they are literally “Water Boarded” in an ‘Allegory’ segment that takes them to the depths of the Ocean. And, believe this: There is water everywhere. Falling water, water on the floor, water dripping from the doorways – its non-stop, creepy and horrifying water.

There is Nudity in the production, which is totally necessary to the telling of a one-night of carelessness. Love turns to mistrust, Lovers leave and the blue bird of happiness flies out the window. And the continual reach of the Octopus tears everyone’s insides apart. I must say that this is an emotional and overwhelming experience.

There is much to say about Octopus – but to reveal too much of this thriller would spoil it for you. The less you know, the better the surprise. I will say however, that playwright Steven Yockey has written a commanding debut. He hit’s the Bull’s-Eye. If you see one play this year – you’d better make it this one.


Patrick Alparone (as Blake) gives a marvelous textured and heart warming performance. His lover Eric Kerr as (Kevin) grabs you and won’t let go. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of him. The seducer, Liam Vincent (Max) is slick as ice as he is the first one to take off his clothes. Vincent’s performance as the unlikable man is superb. There also are some funny moments in this dark play. Those are delivered to us by the Telegram Delivery Boy– (Rowan Brooks), who just crackles and pops every time he comes to the door. He is audacious and riveting. Max’s lover, Brad Erickson (Andy) finds out too late that he has endangered someone’s life. Erickson perfectly captures the end of a journey. “Four-ways” — can be murder!

The Direction by Kate Warner manages to rattle the very foundation of the Theater. Shall we say Perfection? YES – lets say it!

The fantastic set design is by Erik Flatmo. The intriguing Light Design is by Jarrod Fishcher. The Costumes by Alexae Visel are a visual treat. The Sound Designer/Production Director creates a surreal environment that is akin to the “Poseidon Adventure”.


RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long running Arts segment on KQED FM)))

The Group Leader, Ryan Eggensperger at Climate Theatre.


There I was sipping a Latte at my favorite café. It’s only my favorite because of the big windows – that are perfect for people watching. The swill that was called a Latte has nothing to do with my being there. Well, I was all primed to relax and peruse the misleading daily papers, when in whirls Vera Karp from Tuna Texas. She did not look happy.

What is it Vera? Did you not like the interview I did with you about your new show at the Curran Theatre? She said in her Texas drawl: “It wasn’t the interview that concerns me – you little Smut Peddler – you said that I would be coming to San Francisco in Tuna Texas. The name of the show is ‘Tuna Does Las Vegas’. Now, I know that you have over 500,000 readers a week at beyondchron and I want you to let yah-all know what the name of the show is.”

You got it, Vera. I shouted it out –‘Tuna Does Las Vegas’ – but please put down that purse that you keep swinging at me – you might hurt me. “That’s what I had in mind” – Vera said, as she whirled back out the door. And another thing — The stars are Jaston Williams and Joe Sears!” Got it Vera! “Who was that?” – someone asked me. “Oh, just another Christian crazy – but a funny one.” – I replied.

I just started to relax again – and who comes over to my table but BRANDON ADAMS the Musical Director of ‘Musical, Musical: The Musical – the standing room only hit at the Center Rep in Walnut Creek. And there he was standing right there at my table. Or should I say looming and not looking very happy. “I want to thank you for the review of Musical of Musicals, he said. But did you purposely not mention my name, the music director? I’d love to hear some constructive criticism if there’s a reason you left me out.”

“Wow, Brandon. Did I do that? How could that be – leaving the Musical Directors name out would be like leaving the Hot Fudge off a Hot Fudge Sundae. The show would not be the fabulous success that it is without you. There is no doubt that you definitely are one of the main reasons that the show is one the most astonishing, glittering shows of the season. Would I leave you out – on Purpose? No! Lets just say it was a computer glitch. Your Piano playing and arrangements are electrifying! And, of course, you know that I loved the show. It’s the best show ever!”

At a nearby table was ‘Eric’ listening to all this. “I read your reviews of ‘Musical of Musicals’ and it’s ‘Murder Mary’ today. I can’t wait to see ‘Musicals’!! Really enjoyed ‘Murder Mary’ – it was silly, but lots of laughs. You mentioned the entire cast of performers, but you left off the name of the guy who played the DOCTOR (P.A. COOOLEY’S BOYFRIEND IN THE SHOW). His name is ROGER HANSON. Just thought I’d let you know. Thanks for your column.” (It looks like I’m going to have to find another coffee shop.)

Hey Eric – it was an omission that was not planned. Roger was certainly one of the most intriguing actors on the stage. The Doc was on the top of my list to be the killer.
Hanson is totally hilarious as the Doctor, who looks like he got his diploma in a Cracker Jack Box. Good to see you Eric. Just a reminder to all – “It’s Murder Mary” – is Laugh-Out-Loud Funny!” – at NCTC. My Latte is cold — I’m leaving.


Well, here’s your chance to go back in time. A new play (show/performance) called “The Group” combines a charismatic leader with an immersive audio experience inspired by the American tradition of packaging and selling self-improvement. The Dodeska Performance Ensemble & Climate Theater is presenting this World Premiere Performance this weekend thru June 14. Robert Quillen Camp, the creator explains it this way: “Our aim is to create a fun but ultimate unsettling experience reflecting simultaneous attraction to and repulsion from organizations that promise a better and happier life.” Well, the Climate Theatre is the perfect place for this alternative arts program. Climate is famed for it’s Solo Mio Festival among other interesting plays and events. Artistic director–Jessica Heidt – who you may remember runs the Climate from the Magic Theatre. So – Follow the Leader to the Climate where your leader and your headphones will take you on another kind of ‘trip’. www.climatetheater.com.


The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour. www.lafterhall.com.

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Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

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