Review by MONIQUE LEBLEUJune 23, 2017 99% magazine/freelance original article
What I liked
Moral ambiguity gray area, dubious side taking, and where the ends justifies the means…maybe. These are the themes addressed in Dark Arts.
Would you hire someone who you thought might be morally corrupt if you knew they’d get the job done when your life’s-blood depends on it? We’re not talking about murder, but accessing the talents of those who know how to dig a proverbial knife into a foe for you just deep enough to draw blood and send them hobbling. Would you do it if you knew it would save your dream, your family, or your life? And if you were really good at such a thing yourself if you knew what a difference it could make to the future, to yourself…or to your ego?
Professionals in politics, law, finance, and PR will have such traits and our society depends on many of their successes, regardless of reasoning. Dark Arts not just touches on, but digs deep into what it takes to get to the heart of an issue for a client, the payoffs when it goes right, the heartache when it goes wrong and all the sacrifices required regardless of the outcome…including love, health, and the soul’s integrity.
Terence Leclare as Bill Caterwaul is hysterical as a seemingly clueless FDA inspector, who plays it near full-on Poindexter/Lab nerd without the stereotype getting too in the way. (Actually the stereotype is the point here, appropriately.)
The well written dialogue and direction of Dark Arts often has a His Girl Friday style and feel and was often was played high pace where this writer had to really to perk up and pay attention. That’s a good thing.
And like Porn Rock, I’d really like to see Dark Arts again, if not to catch a fresher audience, but to catch all the nuances I may have missed. And like House of Cards, sometimes you find yourself oddly rooting for that Bad Guy…or just the guy wearing a “grayish” hat. And which one is that one again?
What I didn't like
Some brief pacing issues occurred here and there, some excessive blue language, and some mild clunkiness in the emotional relationship between St. Jude and Bradford are noted here, but the Space Prom at Fringe Central was pending so perhaps there was an anxiousness in the audience—but there was definitely a tension in the air, the kind that can murder comedy.
My overall impression
Like Lawrence Meyers award-winning production of Porn Rock on the Parent’s Music Resource Center Senate Committee Hearings in 1985, the writing is well researched—or just lived—and the comedy comes from the fact that at some point we all have encountered an Andrew St. Jude (Meyers) or two, or have been a Marcia Bradford (Elizabeth Dement) in caring far too much in a job.