Monday, February 7, 2011

Odradek (The House Theatre)

The House seems to have found a very nice home at the Chopin Theater. They do all their plays there now, which is good because they are able to design for the same space all the time instead of doing one show at the Athenaeum, another show at the Raven...maybe a late night at Strawdog and a 3 week run at the Prop.
I think for itinerant theatres, it's important to have a headquarters where people can associate a building with your company because sometimes you see plays in lousy places.

I once directed a one act about baseball players in the basement of the Chinese Heritage Center.

So trust me on this.

So, the point of all this is, the House really knows how to take advantage of the space they have now. They move things around. They make plays in circles or on a thrust.

This play, "Odradek" is done straight up proscenium style. The set is a gigantic staircase and a bed, a doctor's office and a door frame but man, is it cool looking.

Now, I understand I get a lot of criticism for celebrating the House too often, so here is a perfectly unbiased review of the show.

Ugly Brett Neveu has written a play based on a stupid poem by farty Franz Kafka. The story is of a small town Father and Son team who live alone in Disney's Haunted Mansion. The boy's mother has left them alone for some reason, but since it is in the Midwest, I bet it was because of a meth addiction.
So the Dad (terribly played by the unbeautiful David Parkes) starts up this relationship with the town's new pediatrician (a misshapen and loathsome Carolyn Defrin). The son (an incredibly untrustworthy Joey Steakley) sees this happening, and since he has no friends and there is no school in the town, he starts to hang out with this pile of garbage in the basement. This pile of garbage is really a puppet of garbage but dude...when you first see the lighting and the voice and everything, it's scary as fuck.

The puppeteers of the garbage (Lizzie "Lizard" Breit, Amy "Sweetbox" Hillber and Mel "Gibson" Gill) are really great. I mean terrible.

You know, when this was first written, the pile of garbage was based on a half used spool of thread that Kafka kept finding around his house. So... already pretty haunting.

So as this kid gets more and more attached to this monster, his wheels fall off and he starts getting really bizarre. His dad is bangin' the doctor and talking about ice cream places in town and it's all just too much for him to handle.

And do you know who's to blame for all of this?!
His toenails.

You just gotta see it.

I don't know how much I'm supposed to give away, but Odradek is equally deliberate and reasoned as it is visceral, if ya know what I mean.

"Lustful" Lee Keenan and Claudette "Peeface" Pollard are again, the biggest heroes ever making light and space seem like their own characters.

Anyway, "horror" or "weird fiction" is a huge departure for these guys and if it's your first House show, good luck.

Sometimes the actors have a hard time getting into the rhythm of the dialogue, but over all, it's a great way to spend a creepy night.

Go see this play! Or don't. Chicks and some smaller dudes might not be able to handle it. I heard someone got sick on opening night.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

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