A Sad and Sweet Musical of Transformation
By Skip Sheffield
The trouble with “The Trouble with Doug” is that it is pretty hard to describe this new musical play by Will Aronson and Daniel Mate.
The plot is only vaguely inspired by Franz Kafka’s absurdist 1915 metaphor, “The Metamorphosis.”
“The Trouble With Doug” runs through May 10 at Arts Garage, 180 N.W. First St., Delray Beach. In this equally absurd metaphor, instead of a travelling salesman turned into a huge bug, we have a young, over-achieving guy turned into a huge, slimy, garden slug.
Doug (Clay Cartland) and his fiancée Vanessa (Alix Paige) are preparing to start a new life in California. Doug’s mom Lynn (Patti Gardner) and dad Jim (Barry Tarollo) request that Doug perform one last household chore: fix the sliding door downstairs that Doug’s slacker older brother Vince (Shane Tanner) has failed to repair.
The mood is set with a Prelude and the song “Goodbye to Doug,” followed by the brothers rivalry duet “Nailin’ It.”
Mom and dad lament that things are “Falling Apart,’ and Vince joins in the concern with “Something Wrong With Doug.”
That something is the early signs of slugdom: gooey slime shooting from Doug’s hand; antennae beginning to grow from his forehead.
As in Kafka’s parable, the characters are more concerned with their own selfish concerns than the poor schnook who is turning into a repulsive creature.
Clay Cartland is an inspired choice for boyish, all-American Doug, as is Alix Paige as his lovely, caring girlfriend. Guest director Margaret Ledford has cast wonderful singers who can act convincingly in all five roles. Patti Gardner and Barry Tarallo are staples of South Florida for a good reason: they are excellent at what they do. The big surprise in this show is Shane Tanner, whose transition of Vince is even more amazing than Clay Cartland’s man-into-slug.
“The Trouble With Doug” left us feeling a vague melancholia, but maybe that is what is what the authors had in mind. Life is sad and sweet in equal measure, and there are some things that are beyond our control. We just carry on.
Tickets are $30-$45 advance and $5 more at the door. Call 561-450-6357 or go to www.artsgarage.org.