Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stop Hitting Yourself

Well this is not your typical play.  Commissioned by LCT, this quirky theater collective named Rude Mechs has taken the farce to new heights on the stage.  Seven talented actors grace the gilded stage but after a rousing opening number filled with tap dance and foot stomping - the show quickly degrades into a rather entertaining, if not strange, farce.

Beneath all the glitz, glamor, faux-gold-painted everything (including a piano!), and fountain spewing queso there is a message struggling to escape.  Do good.  Renounce your wealth and riches to care for the poor, the sick, the less fortunate.  Can goodness survive in a world of such maddening selfishness and desire?  Through tongue-and-cheek dialogue the entire plot reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit, to be honest.  There's music, tap dancing, singing and those few serious ethical issues all wrapped up in one big hot mess.  The actors even mysteriously break character at lease 3 times to come forward on the steps of the stage to just tell the audience something about themselves - personally - not their characters.  This fuels even more the concept of farcical theatre being presented.  Strange, yes.  Funny, yep.

The show opened with the adorable Paul Soileau (the characters just all went by their regular names) in a tux, but we never saw him dressed as a man again - he became the slightly drunk, ostentatious, and cranky queen in a zippy electric wheelchair.  Joey Hood's antics and tap dancing and big gold necklace made me chuckle with glee.  Lana Lesley (The socialite) knocked it out of the park with her wickedly oblivious mean streak.  The Wildman (Thomas Graves) seemed to be the leader of the troupe if by nothing else, his omnipresence on the stage.

I'm intrigued at Lincoln Center Theatre's choice at such a traditionally stodgy institution.  Maybe that's the point - shake things up on the new roof (the Claire Tow Theatre is literally on the roof of the stuffy Vivian Beaumont Theatre) .  Whatever the case - it's a welcome, refreshing bit of theatre of the absurd (or otherwise).  I just hope that cheese tastes good after several performances.