Anita’s Eye on the Rodeo — Winners and Losers – West Village Theatre
Marcus Youssef and James Long do an edgy dance of language that moves between wit and seriousness, gentleness and nastiness, bravado and remorse. In their play of words and debate, the two men spar verbally, mostly, for more than an hour about topics they mutually agree on — race, family, economic status and celebrities, among others. Some have been performed many times before, some are unique to the night’s performance. You really never know if their chiding of one another is rehearsed or if it’s new and dangerous – putting the audience — me at least — somewhat off balance.
Underlying the show is an element of truth telling that belies the Winner or Loser label and the desk bell bing that each of the conversations ends with. We quickly become uncomfortable as the debates unfold examining the subjects with a degree complexity — and realize these facile tags put us on dangerous moral ground. The show illustrates how simplistic the terms winner and loser are and how under any kind of scrutiny, these labels fall apart.
Winners and Losers isn’t about making us feel good. Youssef and Long take us into intellectual and moral territory that challenges us to think in a time when epithets are slung about with little regard for the humanity and complexity of the subject. It’s a fabulous illustration of the many layers of subtlety our language and lives offer — if we allow it.
Do see this show. It’ll make you think and give you plenty to talk about after the performance.
Winners an Losers is produced by Theatre Replacement and Neworld Theatre in association with Crow’s Theatre.