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Use Both Hands

Audience members shouldn't be deterred by Sleepwalkers Theatre's don't-give-a-shit facade. The company prints its handwritten programs on binder paper, uses the word "fuck" more than a hundred times in its script and press materials, and eloquently calls its brand of original entertainment "Hella Fresh Theatre." Bottom line, though, its shit is good. Two years in development, Use Both Hands, by local playwright John Rosenberg, starts out like Swingers with two old buddies (Tore Ingersoll-Thorp and Damian Lanahan-Kalish) headed to "America's Valhalla" (Reno) for one long night of gambling in a somewhat desperate fashion. And then, in a journey into the compellingly dark realm of Leaving Las Vegas, they meet Marie (Holly Chou), who has hit a suicidal bottom. Rosenberg has perfected hilariously long non sequitur rants and prolonged awkward moments, and Ian Riley gives one of the most stellar performances I've seen in years. As the White Sox–loving, threesome-wanting husband, Riley (a recent UC Santa Cruz Theater grad) is undeniably charismatic and brings a controlled danger to his pro-war and sexist dialogue. The script is too long and starts to repeat itself in the end, and some of the performances are uneven, but Rosenberg and Sleepwalkers have tapped solidly into the vein of youthful and gripping theater.

 
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