Thus begins American playwright Samuel Shepard’s “The God of Hell.” Written in response to the attacks on Sept. 11, Shepard’s play is one of intrigue and deception, two big capitalization points for Bruka Theater director Tom Plunkett, who is putting on the production opening Friday.
“It has very scary undercurrents,” Plunkett said. “But it’s presented in a darkly comic way, which is Shepard’s style.”
Involving only a handful of main characters, Frank (played by Adam Neace) and his wife Emma (played by Sandra Neace) represent the typical middle class family. When government employee Mr. Welch (played by Jon Lutz) arrives at their door looking for Frank’s old friend Haynes (played by Scott Dundas), the suspense builds.
Much of the play hints at government conspiracy, nuclear proliferation, torture and the brainwashing of American citizens.
“The play name itself is suggestive,” Plunkett said. “Plutonium (a radioactive element used for nuclear weapons) is named after the (Roman) God of Hell, Pluto.”
Describing Mr. Welch’s character resembling that of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Plunkett continued on to mention that the play is very much an indictment of the Bush administration, using a great deal of metaphors.
“Toward the end of the play, the set is entirely covered with American flags,” Plunkett said, explaining that Mr. Welch pushes the American flag image on the couple, almost forcefully. “It’s crazy neo-cons gone haywire.”
Plunkett, being the big Shepard fan that he is, said audience members can expect a true-to-form script following, with little to no deviation.
“I love Shepard, I’m probably Bruka Theater’s Shepard-phile” said Plunkett with a laugh, adding that he has acted in several of Shepard’s plays himself. “He’s brilliant, the weirdness of it. He writes a lot about the American west and a lot of dysfunctional families.”
That said, Plunkett said that if audience members do not relate to the story, they have something compelling to watch, particularly with the transition to a new administration being one of the main reasons Plunkett decided on this play.
“I was strongly against what was going on in the country,” Plunkett said. “This play is a parable for what was going on and what could have been going on without us knowing it. I feared for my country for the entire eight years of the Bush administration.”
Such an overriding of fear and deception, Plunkett said he hopes can serve as an ominous warning.
“Thank God we didn’t end up this way,” Plunkett said.
The play will open Friday at 8 p.m. and run every weekend after that Thursday through Saturday through March 7. One matinee showing will run Feb. 22, starting at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $16 for students and seniors and $18 for general admission. Day of tickets are $20.
Bruka Theater is located at 99 N. Virginia St. in Reno.
For more information, visit the Bruka Theater Web site at www.bruka.org.