In Arabia We’d All Be Kings


It’s The Iceman Cometh for the aughts with lots of drug addicts, hookers, and of course the sage drunk who periodically wakes from a stupor to deliver dazzling cliches about life. But there is a great deal of memorable dialogue:

SKANK. A guy jerked-off on my face the other night for twenty dollars, man. He came right in my eyes.
LENNY. Yeah?
SKANK. Like I was nothin’.
LENNY. Yeah.
SKANK. Twenty bucks.
LENNY. Thass okay…At least you got twenty bucks, man.

A test for any actor is to deliver those lines in a way that conveys the characters’ pain and sense of futility, but without making the audience break into laughter.  In the performance I saw, the actors could not accomplish this.

The most powerful dialogue comes when SKANK unsuccessfully tries to negotiate a drug deal that leads to his humiliation described above.  SKANK pleads with him while telling him that he was a fireman and saved a kid once.  That was genuinely moving.

I like the play, but I don’t like it when a writer tires really hard to work the title of the play into some dialogue so the audience knows what the title of the play means.  Guess what?  The old drunk delivers the line that contains the title of the play.  Who’d have thought?