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A CurtainUp Review

Broad Channel
By Jenny Sandman

Between JFK and Far Rockaway is the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, consisting of 9,000 acres of salt marches, brackish ponds and open water. Nestled amongst this is Broad Channel, Queens, a small, clannish community of people, besieged by flooding and airplane noise. If you didn't know it was there, you'd never know it was there. So to speak.

So Broad Channel, starring Doc Dougherty and written by Anna Theresa Cascio and Doc Dougherty, will at the very least be informative. It's essentially an hour-long monologue about Eddie Doc, a young man in the '70s growing up on Broad Channel. Life in Broad Channel, although it is 1977, seems very much like Brooklyn in the '50s-big Catholic blue-collar middle-class families within a tight-knit community. It's a little slice of Americana, in Queens.

But because it's a familiar scenario, it has a predictable outcome. Eddie is 19, back from the Army, and adrift; his days consist of work (as a garbage man), fending off his abusive father, looking after his pregnant mother and younger sisters, and drinking with his buddies. Tom Seaver, the powerhouse pitcher of the Mets, is Eddie's only hero. Indeed, watching the Mets is an island pastime. When Seaver is traded to the Cincinnati Reds, the whole community mourns. That same weekend, as he is trying to cope with Seaver's loss, he meets Babe. She brings a ray of hope into his existence, and he begins to dream of a life beyond the confines of the island. But, as we all know, life rarely works out the way we want it to, and Eddie has to find his own way off the island to seek his own fortunes in the world.

Though the piece is from Eddie's point of view, Dougherty plays all the different characters: his mother, his father, his friends, Babe. Although he is a little old to convincingly play a 19-year-old, Dougherty does a great job with all the various characterizations. He's established a loving bond with the inhabitants of Broad Channel, and projects this so that we empathize with Eddie's plight. Despite this, the play is somewhat flat as a whole. Since it is primarily a narrative (and a nostalgic one, at that), there's little action or impetus.

Dougherty maintains some sense of forward movement with the different characterizations, but in the end, it's not enough to compensate for the lack of plot. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable to watch this gifted actor and get to know something about Broad Channel or its inhabitants. In short, it's not a cliffhanger, but a nice way to spend an hour. Baseball fans will be especially entertained.

Written by Anna Theresa Cascio and Doc Dougherty
Directed by Molly Fowler
Featuring Doc Dougherty
Set Design by Michelle Malavet
Lighting Design by Greg MacPherson
Sound Design by Elizabeth Rhodes
Running time: 1 hour without intermission
Phil Bosakowski Theatre
354 West 45th Street, 212-279-4200; $25
Through May 4; Tuesday through Friday, 8 PM, Saturday and Sunday 3 and 8 PM
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on April 12th performance

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