Every so often, there appears what I call a “paperback play.” What I mean by that, is play that, whether or not the author has some deeper thematic purpose in mind, is really all about story, and is told in such a way that you want to keep the metaphorical pages turning, as you would the real pages of a great beach read. Other People’s Money was such a play; so was a few good men; so are most of the plays buy Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham.
Such is The Violin by Dan McCormick. Taking place on a cold winter’s night in the East Village of Manhattan, in an avenue A tailor shop, it’s about what happens in the evening aftermath of mentally challenged Terry (Kevin Isola) having left a violin that he found in the back of his cab, with shop owner Gio (Robert LuPone), who has long been the spiritual adoptive father to him and his small time criminally-inclined older brother Bobby (Peter Bradbury). As it turns out, this violin is no casual fiddle; and despite Gio’s adjurations that the brothers need to get their act together, employment-wise and morally, it could revive a lot of dead, and frankly impossible dreams. And perhaps not only for the brothers.
Though the thumbnail description makes The Violin seen to bear an ostensible resemblance to David Mamet’s American Buffalo, the Mamet play is a more casual character study from the period before he had his own self-described epiphany about the value of plot. Whereas by contrast you get the sense that McCormick has started a story mechanism going with the first lines of dialogue. (“Ya know this city’s so fucked sometimes. Last night as I’m walking over here, I tripped over this.” I won’t tell you what “this” is, but it figures into the tale.)