Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bad Jazz

Photo/Carol Rosegg

To put it mildly, Adam Rapp just got fucked. Robert Farquhar's Bad Jazz is years ahead of Bingo with the Indians, both elegant and perverse. Trip Cullman's expertise as a director shows: the discordant theme runs out from the music, across an increasingly cluttered stage and through actors caught up in the catharsis of cursing. The play shifts from serious conversations about, say, the ethics of actually performing oral sex in a play into the farcical consequences of taking character too far in the rehearsal process, but only drops a beat with a small diversion into the director character's private life. The intensity is balanced by an exaggeratedly comic tone, and the thoughts are clearly delineated by the wonderful Marin Ireland (as free as I've ever seen her on stage) and gruffly garrulous Rob Campbell (think James Lipton + Sean Connery). There isn't a dull moment in the entire play (though the acoustics sometimes drop lines you're hanging onto the edge of your seat to hear), and though it's ultimately more mocking than meaningful, it's pretty visceral no matter how you parse it.

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