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Dean Haspiel


19th June 2014

11:50am: The Rumpus reviews SWITCH TO KILL
"Wordplay comes to blows in Switch to Kill, hardboiled human interest auteur and ongoing pop comics legend Dean Haspiel’s first work for the stage. Characters Buck Dangerzone and Dallas Twilite are a codependent hit man team made in hell, but Haspiel and director/designer Ian W. Hill were made for each other—Haspiel’s Tarantino-esque marathon harangues and elliptical dialogues bleed into both the noir and the theater-of-the-absurd beats Hill has walked long and well.

Stephen Heskett is hypnotically sour and fixated as the more talkative Buck, and he’s having a play-long quarrel with Dallas that’s much more than a mere workplace dispute. It builds to a Memento-level self-revelation, layered beneath these men who are so invested in remaining anonymous.

The line between self-assertion and concealment is smudgy for people whose job is to deal in life and death, and in one bar conversation Jimmy the Face (played by Hill himself, in a raspy deadpan straight from the urban desert of some never-filmed Orson Welles noir) holds forth on how an assassin’s “art” lives on after him—an odd reassurance that one will make one’s mark by erasing lives.

But ink stains the scene in every direction, in a shredded handbook of witty ripostes and bizarre characters from Haspiel’s sketchpad of eccentric tough guys (especially in a Nixonian pageant of discomfort and chagrin from Bryan Enk as a flustered fence, and a blur of verbal footwork from Paul J. Kim as a weird Ron Popeil-ish arms dealer).

You won’t see the end coming, but Haspiel and Hill will show you something beyond that—a light between ever more tunnels."

--Adam McGovern

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