Everyone has thought about what it would be like to swap lives with someone else. “The Carpenter” is a play that explores what lengths people may go to if they actually could trade lives.
In some ways, the storyline was similar to Shakespearean comedies with the look-alike sibling mix ups found in the plots of “Twelfth Night” and “Comedy of Errors.” However, “The Carpenter” has some unexpected twists and a surprising ending.
Both Ken Wulf Clark (Dan) and Wade Mccollum (Gene) do an incredible job of each mastering not one, but two characters as they switch lives and personalities instantaneously during the show. It’s impressive that they can each switch in an instant so convincingly that at times I couldn’t tell it was Dan or Gene pretending to be Dan and vice-versa.
The play’s author, Robert Askins, hails from Cypress, Texas. I believe that It’s important for Houston to support local, contemporary artists. It’s impossible to produce a world-class theater scene without growing local talent. I applaud the Alley Theatre for continuing to support contemporary artists with their Alley All New Festival.
“The Carpenter” has no shortage of references to people, places and things that are particularly familiar and funny to a Texans — and particularly a bayou city — audience. The play zealously hates on Dallas from a Houston stage with on-point jokes throughout this hilarious production. I’ve seen plays where characters reference New York neighborhoods and locations I don’t know, and I appreciate that this show is created specifically for space city.
Part of the inspiration for “The Carpenter” was when Askins found out he had a hidden half-brother who contacted him through Facebook and invited him to get a beer. This play begins with two long-lost brothers getting a drink. While many other parts of this play are ridiculous, it is still attached to the reality of possibility with family secrets, class struggles and wedding jitters.
Overall, “The Carpenter” is a funny play of mix ups and madness that is the new gem in the Houston theater scene.
The Alley Theatre in downtown Houston is showing “The Carpenter” through Feb. 10. Fair warning, this play contains the brandishing of weapons, audible gunshots, profanity and adult content. With a valid student ID, tickets are $16 for non-prime performances and $26 for prime performances (Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday matinees). If purchasing online, use the promo code STUDENT.