In his performer's note, Chad Brummett describes The Velocity of Gary (not his real name) as a second chance. This production of James Still's Gary, presented by Tricklock Theatre Company at The Box Performance Space, is staging No. 2 for Brummett, having also performed the solo drama 10 years ago while studying theater at UNM.
Brummett's second sojourn into Gary's juggernaut of a reality isn't based on failure—at least that's not what he said in the playbill and that's not what I'm inclined to believe. Still's created a challenging and rewarding character in Gary: a character who not only deserves a revisit, he demands it.
Gary, not his real name by the way, likes many things. He likes wearing his reflective sunglasses so people can see themselves in his eyes. He likes the feel of his leather jacket on his naked skin. He likes (really likes) playing pinball while mysterious men in suits stare at him, wanting. Gary travels through life as one might through a shopping mall with a loaded gift card—only Gary's mall is the streets of New York and his currency is an overdeveloped sense of “anything can happen.”
As solo shows go, The Velocity of Gary has a singular appeal. Gary doesn't stand on its clever writing alone, giving the job of the performer immensely more weight. To say the script of Gary isn't humorous or witty would be wrong, but it’s not a story one could just read to the audience to get laughs or empathy. Gary must be performed.
Brummett has made his mark on the New Mexico dramatic community over the years, having starred in many local productions (his performance as Hamlet was a highlight), and he is making his way into the inner circle of Burquewood (Beer for My Horses, 3:10 to Yuma, “In Plain Sight”). Brummett's impressive résumé alone should drive any theater lover to the doors of The Box. His performance is engulfing from the first line, and he keeps that attention throughout the whole show. Particularly noteworthy is Brummett's ability to shift between characters (or Gary's perception of each character) as well as his spacial awareness. The small thrust stage at The Box doesn't allow Brummett much room for self or props, but a larger space would have only presented an unnecessary challenge. Brummett has another commanding performance to add to his résumé. Very polished, supremely well studied and brilliantly staged.
So how has 10 years of reflection and honing of his craft aided Brummett in presenting Gary today as compared to his college days? I imagine this time Brummett has insight (and hindsight) he couldn't fathom the first go-around. Not to detract from Brummett's performance—it was damn brilliant—but it took artistic balls of steel to bring the audience in on the secret of his second stab at this role. Brummett allowed us, in some small way, to imagine him at the beginning of his career, before his film credits and reputation as one of the finest actors in Burque. He brought us in on the reflection to contemplate what he has learned over a decade. I found myself thinking as much about Brummett's journey performing Gary as I did about Gary's trials within the play.
We audience members rarely contemplate the hours, days and years of effort put into the minutes we see on stage. The only thing that could make The Velocity of Gary better would be a question and answer session with Brummett after the show. This audience member is dying to know what little bits and pieces Brummett discovered on the return journey, because they came together beautifully on the stage.