Trevor, directed by Alex Levy and written by Nick Jones, at 1st Stage, is equal parts emotional and thought-provoking. With strong performances throughout, this subversive show is dark comedy at its best.
The peculiar storyline to the show is this: in a rural American home in 2009, an erratic, 200-pound, ex-actor chimpanzee named Trevor (the impressive Doug Wilder), who once starred in commercials with real-life TV-star Morgan Fairchild, tries to overcome his lust for the spotlight while living with his owner\surrogate mother, Sandra (wonderfully portrayed by Leigh Jameson). The kernel of all of this is based on a true story.
Levy effectively directed a show that at first glance proffers many questions, with seemingly no good answers. Is it a satire about washed-up actors? Is it an allegory about being true to one’s nature like the animals of the wild? Why do some people bond more tightly to humans than animals? It doesn’t help that the play takes place in a world in which chimps can marry humans and drive cars.
With his chimp-like body movements, Wilder, a National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts alumni, did a masterful job showing Trevor’s erratic behavior grow as the play went on. Trevor, it seemed, was happiest when watching himself on TV and practicing his autograph—lack of fame was driving him insane. Wilder’s portrayal heightened the suspense inherent in Trevor’s character: when and if he would snap and do something awful.
Adding to that suspense was Sandra’s neighbor Ashley, who had a little baby at home, and was scared of Trevor. Amanda Forstrom fabulously played both Ashley and Morgan Fairchild, who Trevor insisted gets so much TV work because her “hair is the color of pee.” Jameson’s Sandra was ever the advocate for the at times, insufferable Trevor. At one point, she implored “Why don’t animals get second chances?”
Aaron Bliden, suavely dressed in his white fedora and white suit by Costume Designers Collin Ranney, and Kathryn Kawecki, was chuckle-inducing as Trevor’s chimp, TV-actor colleague Oliver, who had sired “two half-human kids” with his “half-human” wife down in Florida.
Sun King Davis played the hapless Sheriff Jim, who seemed clueless about how to deal with a spoiled ex-chimp-TV-star. Jacob Yeh, a 1st Stage Artist Associate, put in a strong performance as an official from Animal Control, who wanted nothing more than to put a tranquilizer dart into Trevor and ask questions later.
Lighting Designer Robbie Hayes effectively used various colored lights to match the tone of various scenes. Kawecki’s wonderful faux-wood, slightly raked set, included Sandra’s living room, kitchen and Trevor’s down-stage, multi-colored playroom. Levy, who is also 1st Stage’s Artistic Director, has masterfully directed a quirky hit with this show.
Whether enjoyed as a harmless satire, or a thinking person’s mental meal, 1st Stage’s Trevor will leave you entertained and wary of fleeting fame.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.