The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Savage in Limbo opens in DPAC

Mark Witte | Tuesday, October 9, 2007

“I’m trying to pull off my face and show you my eyes!”

Meet Denise Savage (Carolyn Rose Sullivan): A woman so lonely she goes out on Monday nights looking for a party, a woman so bored of the everyday sameness, she is dying for something new.

Meet the tired, indifferent and easily angered bartender Murk (Bobby Hannum), whose world, that is the bar he runs, Savage invades. Meet Linda Rotunda (Megan O’Donoghue), the desperate Monday night fling of sex machine Tony Aronica (Nate Grams) who’s having a mid-life epiphany. Finally, meet April White (Margie Janiczek) who should be Sister April, but the bottle claimed her before the Lord did.

These characters all share the same common trait. They are going nowhere fast. But they are trying to do something about it.

“Savage in Limbo,” written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by Siiri Scott, takes place at a bar in the Bronx in a time period that may be lost on our generation, yet it feels somewhat familiar. The play, which plays from tonight until Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Philbin Studio Theatre, begins with an affectionate exchange between Murk and the drunk, snoozing April.

Their serenity does not last long however, as Savage marches in demanding to know why the place is so dead. Hannum, who does an excellent job delivering short, annoyed, apparently obvious remarks, responds, “It’s a Monday. Have a seat.”

Soon Linda bursts in tears about her boyfriend Tony Aronica, who has apparently gone crazy, for Linda exclaims, “He wants to see ugly women!” Savage has a hard time taking Linda’s problem seriously, but then Tony shows up at the bar and things get tense rather quickly.

The situation gets out of hand after Tony tells Linda about an encounter he had with an ugly woman in which he was enlightened on the topic of the Soviets. Tony, who was clearly taken in by the experience, confesses nostalgically, “She told me everything she knew … and then I took her in the backseat and banged her.”

Tony’s epiphany does not go over well with Linda, who gets especially mad when Savage starts making a move on her man, promising him something new. The fight eventually draws in both April and Murk, who is forced to whip out a colorful costume for April’s sake.

The play contains many great lines, both comical and thought-provoking, most of which are spoken by Savage. She attempts to convey her frustrations on being stuck living with her mother, her identity as a virgin and the dead sameness of her everyday life. Sullivan does an excellent job as Savage, evoking both laughs and empathy from the audience with her portrayal.

Director Siiri Scott and stage manager Jenna Moran do a striking job with the stage. The set is apocalyptic, and the bar looks as if a bomb may very well have fallen right on top of it. The plants are even dead, something both Savage and Tony find disturbing, but when they point out to Murk that his plants are indeed withered, he simply states, “Yeah, but they don’t know that.”

Overall the production is lively and entertaining and the character’s ambitions, albeit somewhat hopeless, are compelling. The play strikes chords with Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” but after meeting Denise Savage, you will not leave the theater feeling nearly so depressed.