Small Engine Repair

2011 play written by John Pollono

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Small Engine Repair
Written byJohn Pollono
  • Frank
  • Packie
  • Swaino
  • Chad
Date premieredMarch 25, 2011
Place premieredTheatre/Theater, Los Angeles
Original languageEnglish
SettingA small engine repair shop in Manchester, New Hampshire

Small Engine Repair is a play written by playwright-actor John Pollono. The play centers on three friends who gather one night under a mysterious premise at a repair shop in Manchester, New Hampshire, exploring the themes of regret, fraternity, and masculinity.[1]

Originally produced in Los Angeles by Rogue Machine Theatre in 2011, Small Engine Repair premiered off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in November 2013. A film adaptation starring the original cast in various roles was produced in 2019 and was released in 2021.[2]


Former high school buddies Frank, Swaino and Packie – now past their prime – meet off-hours one night in Frank's out-of-the-way repair shop under cloudy circumstances that only Frank seems to know. The arrival of Chad, a plugged-in, preppy college jock, ignites a long simmering resentment.[3]


The play premiered in 2011, produced by Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles.[4] The production was directed by Andrew Block. Playwright John Pollono and Block had previously collaborated on the FringeNYC 2010 play Lost and Found.[5] David Mauer provided the set and lighting design, Jennifer Pollono was the costume designer and Tony Lepore was the sounds designer. The original cast consisted of Pollono portraying the character Frank, Michael Redfield as Packie, Jon Bernthal as Swaino, and Josh Helman as Chad.

The play first premiered at Theatre/Theater in Los Angeles on March 25, 2011. After critical acclaim, its limited run was extended until June 5.[5] Following this run, the play transferred to the Beverly Hills Playhouse; this production was also extended after a successful run, running into September 2011.[6] Actor Donnie Smith replaced Bernthal as Swaino when the play transferred.[7] The production was generally well reviewed as well as popular, in part due to Bernthal's starring role on AMC's The Walking Dead at the time.[8][9][1] The LA Times and LA Weekly both named it a Critic's Choice and it won many Los Angeles theater awards.[10]

Off-Broadway premiere

In June 2012, it was announced that MCC Theater intended to include Small Engine Repair in their 2012–2013 season. It was to be staged beginning in May 2013 with both Pollono and Bernthal attached to reprise their roles.[11] However, due to one or possibly both of the actor's filming schedules (both actors co-starred in the TNT miniseries Mob City which was in production beginning Spring 2013), the play was pushed to the 2013–2014 season, with previews beginning in October 2013.[12] Ultimately, this schedule change conflicted with Bernthal's own filming schedule and in July 2013 it was announced that he had ceded his role.[13]

The play premiered off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York in November 2013. The play's creative team included director Jo Bonney, set designer Richard Hoover, costume designer Theresa Squire, lighting designer Lap Chi Chu, and sound designer Jill BC Du Boff.[14] A limited-run production, the play began previews on October 30, 2013, opened on November 20, 2013, and closed on December 21, 2013.[15]

Pollono reprised his role as Frank while James Ransone took over the role of Packie, James Badge Dale portrayed Swaino, and Keegan Allen portrayed Chad.

Characters and original casts

Character Los Angeles Cast (2011)[14] Off-Broadway Cast (2013)[14]
Frank John Pollono
Packie Michael Redfield James Ransone
Swaino Jon Bernthal[a] James Badge Dale
Chad Josh Helman Keegan Allen

Awards and nominations

Los Angeles production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2011 Ovation Awards[16] Best Play – Intimate Theatre Small Engine Repair Won
Acting Ensemble For A Play Jon Bernthal, Josh Helman, John Pollono, and Michael Redfield Won
Playwrighting For An Original Play John Pollono Nominated
Director of A Play Andrew Block Won
Lead Actor in A Play Jon Bernthal Nominated
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards[17] Outstanding Production Small Engine Repair Won
Outstanding Direction Andrew Block Won
Outstanding Writing John Pollono Won
2012 Back Stage Garland Awards[18] Outstanding Production Small Engine Repair Won
Outstanding Playwrighting John Pollono Won
Outstanding Ensemble Jon Bernthal, Josh Helman, John Pollono, and Michael Redfield Won

Off-Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2014 Drama Desk Awards[15] Outstanding Set Design Richard Hoover Nominated
2014 Joe A. Callaway Awards Excellence in Directing Jo Bonney Nominated

Film adaptation

Small Engine Repair is a film written and directed by John Pollono based on his play, and was released on September 10, 2021.


  • Pollono, John. Small Engine Repair. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8222-3142-4.[14]


  1. ^ Donnie Smith replaced Bernthal in the original run of Small Engine Repair


  1. ^ a b Verini, Bob (May 27, 2011). "Small Engine Repair". Variety. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  2. ^ "Jon Bernthal: 'Honor of my career' is working with vets". UPI. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "Small Engine Repair". Film & Television Industry Alliance. January 14, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  4. ^ Angeles, Rogue Machine in Theatre Theater 5041 Pico BoulevardLos; Ca 90019. "exhibitions & events". ArtSlant. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "SMALL ENGINE REPAIR - Rogue Machine - Rogue Machine @Theatre Theater". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Gioia, Michael (August 27, 2011). "Rogue Machine's Small Engine Repair, Featuring Josh Helman, Michael Redfield and Donnie Smith, Extends Limited Run". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "SMALL ENGINE REPAIR". StageSceneLA. August 21, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  8. ^ "Theater Review: SMALL ENGINE REPAIR by John Pollono (Los Angeles)". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "Theater review: Rogue Machine's 'Small Engine Repair' at Theatre Theater". LA Times Blogs - Culture Monster. April 14, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  10. ^ BWW News Desk. "Rogue Machine Announces New Schedule for SMALL ENGINE REPAIR". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam (June 19, 2012). "John Pollono's Small Engine Repair, With 'Walking Dead' Star, Completes MCC Theater's 2012-13 Season". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam (April 12, 2013). "MCC Theater to Stage John Pollano's Small Engine Repair Off-Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam (July 8, 2013). "John Pollano's Small Engine Repair to Feature James Badge Dale, James Ransone and Keegan Allen Off-Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d Pollono, John (May 15, 2015). Small Engine Repair. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8222-3142-4.
  15. ^ a b "Small Engine Repair". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam (September 20, 2011). "Venice, They're Playing Our Song, Superior Donuts and Neighbors Earn L.A. Ovation Nominations". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Jones, Kenneth (March 20, 2012). "Charlayne Woodard, Andy Blankenbuehler, Standing On Ceremony Win L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards". Playbill. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  18. ^ "Back Stage 2012 Garland Award Winners". March 1, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2019.

External links

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