Dull Boy Productions Presents “Musket and the Rat”

Dull Boy Productions Presents “Musket and the Rat.” Written by Sammy Horowitz.  Directed by Simon Lees.

Running January 4 through 18, Tuesday, Friday & Saturday at 8pm

The Arena Stage 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, 90028

This play is like watching caged animals trying to survive, needing each other for warmth and protection, but always aware of the nearness of destruction. 

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Adrian Burks, Emma Hoss

Each of these authentic and terrifyingly real characters, torn from the streets of Chicago where the playwright Sammy Horowitz once lived, are quite literally climbing out of their own skin.  Their stories are essentially nothing new.  Bored or lost or forgotten or just too poor or too broken to find any other way forward, they steal and sell drugs and get high to pass the time they would rather not be fully conscious to remember.

The center of the play is Musket. A young women living with her alcoholic mother, she is trying to keep the family afloat by selling heroine, hoping her younger brother can find a better life.  When he is arrested and put in county jail for being in the wrong place at the wrong time she is frantic to make his bail and keep him safe…but life is never that simple.

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Maya Schnaider, Adrian Burks

Her boyfriend is robbed of her hard saved cash and her stash of heroine and the next couple of days are spent doing everything she can to find the money to to save her brother, so sure is she that something bad will happen to him in jail as he awaits court.

It’s a bit like the harsher parts of “Law and Order.” The bits in between the cops and the court and the smart lawyers trying to do their best for their clients.  But there’s no justice here.  No sense of peace or retribution.  Musket and her friends don’t wise up, or get saved.  They just do what caged, scared, wild animals do. No matter how beautiful they are, they tear each other apart.

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Maya Schnaider, Lucas Jackson

“Musket and the Rat” is a sharply written and beautifully crafted play. 

The characters are large and crushingly real.  They collide brutally just as often as they break our hearts with their moments of clarity, in this dark world of no real chances and fatefully twisted, achingly desolate days.

It’s dark but far from dull.  Sad but full of love.  Crass, but with Shakespearean poignance and classically balanced.  Musket is haunted from the start and her spiral downward through the layers of bad luck and bad neighborhoods are compelling and thoughtful, and utterly believable.

If you don’t like cursing, this probably isn’t for you.  But if you appreciate stories that artfully frame the world of survival against the odds so clearly stacked in urban deserts like these then “Musket and the Rat” will be the perfect kind of spiritual journey you might need.  That the lead character is female is particularly brilliant.  That she is played with the strength and the energy that would normally feel more obvious coming from a man is a stroke of genius, both on the part of the playwright and the very fine actor who plays her (Maya Schnaider). 

Plays like these, full of grit and intensity, hard-fought humor and deeply felt love are few and far between.  These are the stories of the streets that most theatre goers do not live on.  And yet the theatre is such an important place for them to be told.  Theatre is life and death, quite literally darkness and light.  These stories are ancient ones and worth telling over and over if only to remind ourselves where our world really is.  Fighting to survive every day with poetry and terror and love.

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Adam Pasen, Maya Schnaider

It’s a pretty short run, but I would recommend you see this play.

 It’s tough but pure and the performances are absolutely excellent…bravo!

The cast includes Maya Schnaider in the role of Musket, Lucas Jackson, Adam Pasen, Garrick LeWinter, Angel Lizarraga (from the recent extended hit show Always Running at Casa 0101), Michelle Holmes, Adrian Burks, Simon Lees, Curt Cornelius, Emma Hoss, Sammy Horowitz and Chas Mitchell.

Stage manager: Jeffrey Gibson. Set design: Aaron Glazer. Lighting design: Greg Crafts.


Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.