Mike Boryla's 'Disappearing Quarterback' scores at Plays and Players

Former Eagle quarterback Mike Boryla's one-man play, "The Disappearing Quarterback," is at Plays & Players.
Former Eagle quarterback Mike Boryla's one-man play, "The Disappearing Quarterback," is at Plays & Players. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 22, 2014

The best compliment I can give former Eagle Mike Boryla after seeing The Disappearing Quarterback?

I would love to hang out in a bar with him.

Boryla fills his highly enjoyable, attention-commanding world premiere at Plays and Players with stories: pregame rituals with barbaric linebackers; a weekend hanging with Hugh Hefner; a "long-haired hippie quarterback" picking up hitchhikers; capping a win streak by thrashing the Dallas Cowboys.

But far more than fantasy and football caught my attention. Boryla's piece opens on him waking up from a concussion that blanked his memory and compelled him to ask a series of questions faced by all young men, those with million-dollar paychecks and not: Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I continuing on this path of life?

The search for these answers covers Boryla's football career. His journey rambles through digressions and asides that pop to mind (plus a few anecdotes thrown in to acknowledge Eagles veteran Frank LeMaster, who attended opening night). Boryla's delivery contains a few old-man-isms - the odd loss of place (real or feigned?), an exasperated style, and trite metaphors - but all told with a sharp sense of humor and well-timed surprises that held the audience rapt throughout. Digressions touch on French medieval architecture, Sun Tzu's strategy manual The Art of War, and the barbarian invasion of Rome, turning professional football into a sociopolitical activity ripe for severe criticism.

Daniel Student's direction adds weight through thought-provoking pacing and blocking that has Boryla conclude each anecdote by retiring one more piece of football paraphernalia.

All of Boryla's adventures end with one exaggerated conclusion after another, but his integrated perspective (a higher compliment: this man possesses tremendous integrity) unified his search into a compelling, deeply human story that blends a dash of Spalding Gray, the existential quest of Beckett's hobos, and the beauty of a tightly thrown spiral.

Is that hyperbole? Sure, but when hearing true tales of helicopters chauffeuring owners to training camps, million-dollar payouts, and linebackers nearly drowning on the football field during the Mud Bowl, hyperbole is probably a better way to respond than compliments.


The Disappearing Quarterback. Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Place. Tickets: $25-$30. Information: 866-811-4111, playsandplayers.org.


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