Michael Van Duzer Reviews - Theater

Goonie is the title of Writer/Performer Terry Maratos’ new one-man show. It is also the name he uses for his daughter in the play -- to “protect” her identity.

Terry desperately wants his elaborate plans for Goonie’s 6th birthday party to run smoothly. But “The Dream Team,” his colorful, quarrelsome, and definitely uninvited Greek relatives, seem just as determined to thwart him with good intentions.

The face-painter is a no-show, the magician has been run off by his father, and the skywriting plane seems to lose interest before finishing its message. Terry’s relatives all appear at the party, seemingly too concerned with their own problems and neuroses to properly celebrate Goonie’s special day.

The crazy, close-knit Greek family may conjure memories of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which also started as a one-person show). And, while there are plenty of laughs in Goonie, there is also an ever-present rage simmering just below Terry’s surface that colors the situation and makes it clear that a happy ending for this family won’t be easily earned.

Maratos is a talented writer, as well as an extremely agile and engaging performer. Under Jim Anzide’s astute and precise direction, the actor’s quicksilver shifts between the many characters are always clear. Most solo performers focus on the voice to differentiate their characters, using subtle physical changes as a secondary device. Maratos completely inhabits the specific physicality of each character, from the tortuously twisted stance of Terry’s mother to the perpetually contorted face of an agoraphobic cousin. It’s an impressive achievement.

Amanda Knehans’ simple, but effective, scenic design, Dan Weingarten’s dexterous lighting, and Tim Labor’s evocative sound prove the perfect backdrop for Maratos’ propulsive performance.

In the end, the old-before-her-time Goonie is clearly the most perceptive member of the clan, and her childish grace does wonders to pacify the beast in her father. The scenes between father and daughter are the emotional core of the piece and bring a welcome quiet tenderness to the antic proceedings.

Goonie has finished its initial run, but look for it to re-open in the near future.

Atwater Village Theatre     April 7 – May 5, 2017