Part of The 18th Annual Festival of Independent Theatres, Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief is alarming, strange, overwhelming and deeply, deeply moving. Produced by L.I.P. Service and directed by Alexandra Bonifield, The Good Thief stars R. Andrew Aguilar, delivering the prolonged, chilling, narrative monologue of an Irish criminal and leg breaker.
Listed in the program only as “The Actor” this amiable thug establishes some background about his girlfriend Greta and his personal quirks, while smoking and nursing his glass of fine Maker’s Mark, neat. His rage is always churning near the surface, and his disaffected (though professional) swagger attitude, makes him repugnant and comical at the same time. He won’t commit to Greta, yet images of her copulating with other men obsess him. Pretty soon he launches into the story of a job he’s eagerly accepted, to mercilessly thrash a guy and put the fear of God into him. While in the midst of completing this grisly, horrific mission, he suspects he’s been set up.
What makes McPherson’s one-man one act so stunning is the intense loathing we feel for the hero, and yet, his agony, his better angels gradually emerge and so does our sympathy. At first jealousy seems ridiculous, but his torture, his excruciation are genuine. His anecdote of the catastrophic, vicious incident turns to an account of sea change. [Though he may not understand this.] It sets off a series of events that (by grace? perverse karma?) give him a long taste of what his career has cost him. McPherson kicks us in the teeth, tickles our ribs, jolts our feeble tickers.
Andrew Aguilar (and Alexandra Bonifield) is no small part of this grubby, electrifying transfiguration. Aguilar’s rough brogue feels authentic (though I’m no expert) and his unnerving level of engagement with the character troubling and uncanny. His investment to channeling this broken, unapologetic, miserable seeker is nothing short of stupendous. He shakes us like an earthquake. He drags us down his path of volcanic anger and relentless penance. Actors are so much braver than most people know, and Aguilar’s fearlessness would terrify a tiger. There is one performance left this coming Thursday, July 28th at 8 PM. It would be a shame to miss it.
L.I. P. Service presents The Good Thief playing Thursday, July 28th, 2016, 8 PM. The Bath House Cultural Center, 521 East Lawther Drive, Dallas, Texas 75230. 1-800-617-6904. www.festivalof independentheatres.com