The U.S. President gets shot, and then the fun begins. Goner is an antic black comedy, about a trio of incompetent surgeons trying to save the life of the wounded president, while also tangling with two FBI agents convinced that the doctors are part of the assassination conspiracy. Performed by seven actors, gender of actors slightly flexible. Approximate running time: one hour and five minutes.
The Theatorium, New York City, 1999
The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2002
Audacity Productions, Dallas, Texas, 2003
Clonmel Junction Festival, Clonmel, Ireland, 2003
Earagail Arts Festival, Letterkenny, Ireland, 2003
Renegade Theatre Experiment, San Jose, California, 2004
The Kraine Theater, New York City, 2006
This comedy is American satire at its sick, twisted best. It is set in a hospital, where the U.S. president has been taken after an assassination attempt. Watching it is like vomiting acid in the wind and finding it comes back to hit you full in the face.
Penned by Brian Parks, whose Americana Absurdum was one of the great pleasures of the fringe two years ago, the play has all his hallmarks: a quick-draw wit that is dry as paint stripper, and a notion that nothing is sacred – not Canada, or black people, or even the medical profession. One feels there is hope for the most powerful nation on earth when it can laugh at itself so loudly. The play is hard, lethal, and unforgiving; British theatre satire is limp by comparison.
Goner is performed in a controlled frenzy of firework acting by a brilliantly sharp cast. My only complaint is that there is not enough of it. THE GUARDIAN
Anyone who thinks that satire has gone soft should go see Goner, the American writer Brian Parks’s outrageous comedy drama. The action is set in a hospital, where the President of the United States has been brought in, having been shot in the head by a hired assassin. “Is he insured?” a doctor asks. When a nurse nods, he cries “Then we must do something!” After some lengthy deliberation, he’s set upon by three surgeons who use knives and forks as operating tools. Meanwhile, a pair of FBI goons are worrying about their career prospects after the shooting and a young doctor has fallen for a stool sample analyst who has decided to jack in her job and make a movie about the glorious journey of black people from slavery to the ghetto. There are no sacred cows here – Canadians, the medical establishment, politicians, and ethnic minorities are all victims of Parks’s caustic wit. The dialogue, delivered at breakneck pace, is scalpel-sharp while the acting is excellent. Quite, quite brilliant. THE INDEPENDENT
Quibble, if you want, over whether Brian Parks’s Goner is a play or just an extended bit of sketch comedy. Whatever it is, it is injecting one of the year’s dreariest months with enough laughs to last till spring.
They are not, however, laughs for everybody. If John F. Kennedy jokes in a satire about a president who has been shot in the head might offend you, don’t go. If the notion of a Chemotherapy Barbie (the hair falls out) seems distasteful, don’t go. Otherwise, though, step right in to the Kraine Theater in the East Village for an hourlong exercise in rapid-fire incongruity.
…. Assorted patients, F.B.I. agents, newscasters and other characters flit through as well. The troupe, Word Monger, delivers it all at a pace that often literally doesn’t leave you time to laugh, which somehow makes it even funnier. THE NEW YORK TIMES
Two worlds collide – that of a madcap hospital and the White House – in this frenetic, quirky drama when the president gets a bullet in the brain.
Thrust into the spotlight of the world’s media, a trio of dubious surgeons — played with relish by David Calvitto, Jody Lambert and Matt Oberg – determine to save the big guy.
Brian Parks writes with a quick wit and his script is bursting with so many gags there is something for everyone whatever your sense of humour. There is a splattering of bad taste, sick jokes, lashings of political incorrectness, and an injection of xenophobia. Canadians, blacks, Native Americans and Anne Frank all find a place in Parks’ firing line.
Oberg as medic Ecorse carries in the pocket of his surgical scrubs his latest invention – Chemotherapy Barbie, she pukes all day and yes, her hair does fall out. This show makes for a manic hour that manages to both repulse and engage at the turn of a scalpel. THE STAGE U.K.
Image credit: Marty Granger