Rae McCarey's excitement about being part of the new original play “Bikers” can barely be contained. With the reliability of Old Faithful, she gushes every few minutes about how “jazzed” she is to be in the show.
“I keep telling people, you know I ask you to come see my shows, but you don't understand, you can't miss this one because you will miss something. You will miss an experience,” McCarey, one of the leads in “Bikers,” said.
“Bikers,” which opens tonight at the Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, N.H. at 7:30 p.m. with additional performance May 29 and 30, June 4- 6 and June 11-13, is the second show from the theater company Dramatica. It has been a long time in the making. The company's first production, Harold Pinter's “Lovers,” was back in 2006.
“I didn't intend for it to be four years between productions, but it has been,” Tom O'Reilly, the creative force behind Dramatica, said. “Also, I wrote this play and it has taken my a couple years to talk myself into doing it. It is always easier to put a show up, with the amount of money it costs, to pick something that you know is great. This is sort of a chance.”
The play's name “Bikers” is somewhat of a misnomer. The title conjures up images of “Easy Rider” or “The Wild One,” but, while motorcycles are a key component of the story, it doesn't fall into the traditional biker stereotype.
“It is actually completely different than what the title alludes to,” O'Reilly said. “However, it does focus on motorcycling and cycling. There's a lot of reference there. There's a lot of draw there.”
The play is a comedy that focuses on a disgraced bicycle racer's (Dan Tetreault) journey back home to New Jersey and the rekindled friendship with a childhood buddy (Scott Katrycz) who is now a Harley fan. The impetus behind the show was when O'Reilly became aware of the number of people over the age of 30 who ride bicycles and motorcycles in the valley.
“I think the most important thing was knowing some Harley bikers and just watching conversation they've had with someone that takes something serious like cycling and have them like argue with each other,” O'Reilly, who is also producing and directing the show, said. “The idea just sort of popped in.”
For O'Reilly, “Biker” is a perfect example of what Dramatica is all about: a focus on scene work, characters, dialogue and the dynamics between characters.
“The Dramatica theory is scenes,” O'Reilly said. “Are the scenes working? It is like when you watch 'Saturday Night Live.' That one didn't, that one didn't work, wait, that one was going. I think a good play is an assembly of stuff that works.”
In the case of “Biker,” the stuff that works just happens to be of the may-not-be-suitable-for-younger-audiences variety. There's language, smoking, drugs and a bit of flesh, but it is always played for laughs.
“You know I've done a lot of comedy shows,” McCarey said. “This is different. This is something entirely special. He's got the right mixture. The word fleshy is perfect, but we don't got over the line to vulgarity and the comedy makes up for it, shades it a little bit so it isn't inappropriately shocking.”
In trying to explain the vibe of the show, O'Reilly compares it to a Steve Buscemi film or the work of playwright and filmmaker David Mamet, at least in terms of the level of vulgarity and the interaction of the dialogue. McCarey compares it to Quentin Tarantino “minus the violence and the guns, but it is the humor, the banter back and forth.”
“Bikers” captures another aspect of the theory behind Dramatica, which is that O'Reilly likes to handpick his cast from the best of local talent. He doesn't hold auditions, but rather seeks out specific people.
“It is like if you could form an ideal little jazz combo or rock band,” O'Reilly said. “You'd be like, 'Well I want this guy on drums, I'd like this guy.' And that's what I try to do and see if they can all get along and work together and, boy, there's some real magic when that happens.”
This was how McCarey got involved. She was shown a monologue and was instantly hooked. She told O'Reilly that he had her whenever he needed her for the show. She was in.
“The monologue was just too good to be true,” McCarey said. “I can take this monologue, which I plan on, and use it as an audition piece. It is that good. I already did. I was complimented on it, 'Wow, that was a really good monologue — where did you get that?' And I said, 'Thank you very much, a friend of mine wrote that.'”
In addition to Tetreault and McCarey, O'Reilly recruited several familiar faces from the local theater scene including Kevin O’Neil, Dan Phelps and Natasha Repass. For one of his leads, though, O'Reilly did reach outside of the valley. Katrycz, from Manchester, has been commuting four hours round trip to be a part of “Bikers" as the character Dean.
“I don't know if another actor would've been able to do it the justice and then take it beyond it,” McCarey said. “And Scott did that. He IS this Dean. He's really lovable and he's very funny, and I could see myself, as Rae, falling for him in a second.”
The modest O'Reilly isn't one to toot his own horn, and he qualifies things with phrasings like “I hope it is funny.” But with McCarey not only does he have his female lead, but an excellent cheerleader.
“It is hot, sexy, but funny, I can't stop laughing during rehearsals,” McCarey said. “I'm having a blast. Everyone is perfect. The casting is perfect. And the timing, I think we're on our game. I think we're doing great.”
Tickets for “Bikers” are $20. For reservations call 447-2537. For more information about Dramatica visit www.dramaticartstage.com.