Imagine a street fighter who has been honing his talent on the streets of 1950's London since he was ten years old and his brother first discovered his "talent". Imagine that the fighter is somewhat mentally challenged, either from too many fights or maybe he was always that way. But he is successful at what he does and his career and his life are carefully managed by his brother.
Now introduce into this scenario a situation in which the fighter has to make the hardest decision of his life. Maybe the hardest decision that anyone could face. It is a simple decision of right and wrong, black and white. Or is it? Maybe the point of the play is that right and wrong aren't always black and white. Maybe sometimes, under the right circumstances, even such sure things as your own moral values can fade to indistinct shades of grey much like the vision of a fighter after taking a particularly effective blow to the head.
Portraying a mentally handicapped person either as a writer or actor is difficult. At least if you try to portray them accurately it is. I learned just how complex such individuals are when my ex-wife worked in the mental health/mental retardation field and I got to know quite a few of her clients. I found that, if you take the time to get to know them and really listen to them, they are no different from anyone else. Somewhere behind a wall of confused communication they are every bit as capable of thought and feeling as you or I and every bit as aware of how other people see them.
The set of this one act play is sparse and simple. A single structure serves at one moment as two adjoining rooms in the flophouse where the brothers live and at another moment a solitary spot amid the supporting structure of the London Bridge that Mick has found where he can be alone with his thoughts and hidden from a society that doesn't quite understand him. It is a story of life and death in hard times. Poverty and the strugle to overcome it is never easy and so I think that the basic themes of this play are as timeless and as applicable today in relation to that situation as those of Romeo and Juliet are to love.
Broken Hands is currently on extended performance till September 20 at The Lion Theatre which is part of the Theatre Row Complex and is located at 410 West 42nd Street in New York City. The play received good reviews in the press during its initial run at the 2006 International Fringe Festival and won two major awards there (Outstanding Playwriting and Outstanding Actor). I think that it deserves these awards and that playwright Moby Pomerance and actor Cory Grant deserve a lot of praise for their contribution to this dark, thought-provoking work.