Pterodactyls | New City Stage Company
Todd Duncan, in his mid-20s has been on the fast road for five years and returns to his Philly suburb home with the news that he has AIDS, is asymptomatic and healthy, but needs a place to stay. He is anything but the gratefully returning prodigal son. This is the domestic framework of Nicky Silver’s brilliantly dark 1993 satire Pterodactyls.
Cheryl, a Main Line mother, goes to the worse case scenario and tells his father Arthur that their son has come home to die. Todd’s father doesn‘t want to discuss it or anything else for that matter outside his fantasies of a nuclear family. The other daughter Emma, who has just announced her engagement, doesn’t even remember who Todd is. Tommy, the future son-in-law is a fast tracking waiter at Salad City, but Cheryl, recently missing a maid, hires him
Cheryl, with the aid of scotch, arranges for Emma’s wedding and contemplate Todd’s funeral because she is happiest when party planning. The betrothed are having big relationship problems and the parents are barely speaking. The yelling starts, more bones are dug up along with not a few family secrets. Along the way Silver releases doses of Eugene O’Neill laced with Joe Orton.
Todd lets all of the dysfunction commence and busies himself assembling a dinosaur bones in the living room from bones he’s dug up in the backyard. The metaphors are anything but brittle.
Director Brenna Jeffers, who just whose inspired musicalized version of Marat/Sade was the highlight of the Philly Fringe Festival again synchronizes a complex play to just pulse from within. This is very stylized writing and at times you don’t know whether it is mannered dialogue inside mannered performances until the surface of it is torn off like so much rendered flesh.
Jeffers has assembled a fine ensemble that just mines Silver’s acerbic dialogue- At the center of Pterodactyls is a volcanic and moving performance by Jered McLenigan. He is hilariously monstrous as he tears the face off of his dad’s view of him by describing his protean sex life in graphic detail (note to LBGT youth, don’t try this at home) the next minute he is just as convincing as a ten year old empathetic son holding his drunken mother who is afraid of being alone.