Rising Action’s amateurish “Fit To Be Tied” unfit for any stage

Tom Falborn, Kitt Marsh and Larry Fields with a bound Brandon St. John in Rising Action Theatre's "Fit to be Tied." Photo Credit: Ken Harrison

David Goldyn, producing artistic director of Rising Action Theatre, has a talent for creating theatre spaces. His previous storefront location in Oakland Park had a decidedly non-strip mall intimate ambiance. His new space on the Sunshine Cathedral campus in Fort Lauderdale bears little resemblance to the church hall it served as just a few weeks ago.”’

If Goldyn had as much talent for creating theatre as he does theater spaces, audiences would not have to endure this train wreck of a production of Nicky Silver’s play, Fit To Be Tied.’

‘Originally produced in 1996, Fit To Be Tied is a clever comedy about a zany New York City family. Arloc Simpson (Larry Fields) is a wealthy young gay man who can’t bring himself to open the envelope that will inform him of his HIV-status. He is obsessed with Boyd (Brandon St. John) a narcoleptic who plays an angel in the Radio City Christmas show. Arloc invites Boyd to his apartment for a tryst, and soon Boyd is bound to a chair with rope. Moments later, their sadomasochistic scene is interrupted by Arloc’s alcoholic, disinherited mother Nessa (Kitt Marsh) who announces that she has left her second husband Carl (Tom Falborn) and is moving in. Hijinks ensue.

Fit To Be Tied explores several themes, including the dysfunctional relationship between a son and his mother.’ Silver has a knack for biting dialogue and many of the situations are absurd and very funny’Boyd fancies himself a filmmaker and wants turn Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night into a one-man movie with Arloc as Mary Tyrone.’ But there is also a serious backdrop to the hilarity, represented by the unopened envelope that remains center stage, the envelope that might confirm whether Arloc is HIV-positive. At that time, such a confirmation was akin to a death sentence, and that dread underscores every move Arloc makes.

Unfortunately, David Goldyn, who directed this production, lacks the vision to guide his cast and mine the serious notes of Fit To Be Tied, neutering the emotional impact of Silver’s play.

Larry Fields remains one of the most acting-challenged performers in South Florida.’ Arloc is a lost, conflicted man, but Fields is incapable of bringing any of those feelings to the surface. His opening monologue looks more like an audition, limited to two expressions: exasperated and annoyed.

Still, Fields appears better here than in past productions, because his lack of talent is surpassed by that of his colleagues.’ ‘

Brandon St. John has two speeds: flat and shrill.’ There appears to be some relief from his nails-on-the-blackboard shriek when Fields gags him during the first act, but that device only makes his incessant whine sound like a Chihuahua in heat.’ ‘

Tom Falborn doesn’t get much stage time, and that’s a good thing. Carl gets some good lines, but Falborn’s dreadful, cartoonish performance strips the words of any bite or poignancy.’

Aside from Jonathan Jones’ stylish scenic design, the only interesting or watchable element to Rising Action’s production of Fit To Be Tied is Kitt Marsh. Nessa has some’major moments of revelation, and Marsh deftly switches gears from venomous mom from hell to a genuine, caring, flawed woman. The realism and credibility of her performance blows her fellow performers off the stage.’ ‘

While Rising Action caters to a niche audience, producing mainly gay-themed shows, it’s worth noting that the company’s two biggest artistic successes, Flora the Red Menace and Reefer Madness, were musicals with no gay element at all. When Goldyn produces his ‘gay’ shows, he has a tendency to go the easy route with cheap ‘talent’ and gimmicky devices. That mind-set, which permeates Fit To Be Tied, does a disservice to both Rising Action and its audience.’

Fit To Be Tied runs through Oct. 24 at Rising Action Theatre, 1480 SW 9 Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. 954-561-2225 or 800-595-4849.’ risingactiontheatre.com.’

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