Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (or, The Friends of Dr. Rushower)

Photo/Carol Rosegg

I found Ben Katchor's The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island to be about as satisfying as I imagine the codeine-laced Kayrol Cola used to drug the stevedore population of slug bearers would be: stuporterrific in the theater, while under constant dosage, and bemusedly benign afterward. The direction, performances, and music are all strong enough to even out the intentionally broad strokes, and the play is decidedly jubilant in mood and satire, but there's no development, simply a roughly hewn plot. There's also a slight design issue: Katchor's art, animated and projected onto both a foreground and background scrim, so as to perpetually sandwich the actors in the midst of wacky colors, looks good, but not up in the first few rows of seating (the illusion doesn't work). Ultimately, the actors in the play are like the metal slugs from the title: they weigh down flimsy thoughts with their presence, from the maniacal rictus found on Stephen Lee Anderson's face to the determined naivety of Bobby Steggert or the contrasts between Peter Friedman's strong paternal presence and Tom Riis Farrell's comically maternal characters. I'm detecting a linguistic theme in the Vineyard's programming this season, but whereas the upcoming God's Ear has a extreme focus, The Slug Bearers comes across as entertaining largely for being defiantly different, not for being extraordinarily engaging.

[Read on]

No comments: