Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: actor/playwright Michael Puzzo on The Dirty Talk
'I don't think you can put a label on it. It is not a light piece – it is a lot about masculinity – but I think it is funny'
This article is from 2014.
Michael Puzzo was already an established actor with the New York-based Labyrinth company when he finally turned his hand to playwrighting. 'The writers were always encouraging me to write, but I was worried that it would be shit,' he laughs. 'But every summer Labyrinth do a retreat. I went up there one summer. I was just coming off a horrible break-up. I found myself in a room and I thought: fuck it, I am going to write a play. I figured if I didn't do it then, I never would.'
When the artistic directors Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz saw the draft of The Dirty Talk, 'they said: we are going to do a reading of it on Friday.' And now the play makes its debut in the UK.
Puzzo is good humoured about its success. 'I say I am an actor and a writer,' he explains. 'It's funny: when I was reviewed, some people called it a thriller, but I don't think you can put a label on it. It is not a light piece – it is a lot about masculinity – but I think it is funny.'
Puzzo's enthusiasm for theatre and his modest wit are reflected in the script, although his humour is never disruptive of the plot or the character's gradual revelations. Revolving around the intense conversation of two men trapped in a cabin, The Dirty Talk has that serious comedy tone familiar from the likes of Sam Shepard, examining big issues with a subtle touch and an eye for the powerful confrontation.
The two men – one seems on the edge of exploding, the other's a mild-mannered internet addict – might be in a hunting cabin, but there is more to their meeting than first meets the eye. 'I set out to write Long Day's Journey into Night and then I show it to an audience,' says Puzzo, ‘and it is a Jerry Lewis movie!'
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