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June 12, 2019:

Tommy’s Room reviewed by Rob Stevens

Tommy’s Room is a work of love, determination and perseverance. It took writer Dan Storm 10 years and six major draft changes to bring his one-hour two-person play to the stage of the Dorie Theatre for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. I wish I could report it was time well spent but what is currently on stage is a muddled mess. The scene is Tommy’s room in a frat house on the campus of Nile Christian University in 2008 Illinois. Tommy (Conor Sheehan) is a football jock and a magnet for girls. His boyhood friend Pete (Jesse Stevenson) is an overweight nerd who clings to his friendship with Tommy, even enduring a savage hazing and gay-baiting to join Tommy’s fraternity. One afternoon, months after the hazing, Pete visits Tommy’s room and their lives are forever changed.

Storm directed his play and a second pair of eyes or a dramaturge might have helped. There is no real structure or momentum to the piece. The two guys spend at least five minutes simulating playing a video game, one the audience cannot see and therefore has no real interest in watching since nothing substantial is being discussed. At another point, both actors are absent from the stage for a few minutes—more dead air. When Pete suddenly begins to air his gripes to Tommy, it’s a surprise to Tommy as well as the audience. And the Israelite gospel tune and the ranting about first born sons of Egyptians come from beyond left field. I am sure Mr. Storm is heartfelt in wishing to express his dismay at the rising tide of gun violence, especially on campuses. But organizing a boycott of the NRA would prove more effective than this play.


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