Thursday, April 02, 2009

Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage

Photo/Jessica Palopoli

Though Grendel appears in Banana Bag & Bodice/Shotgun Player's Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, Dave Malloy and Jason Craig’s songplay is a beast of a different sort, focusing not on the point of view of the heroes (or villains) but rather on the subjective interpretations of three damnable academics. The result is a clash between the physical reality of Beowulf (Craig) and the gleeful spin of the academics, who justly double as the villains of the epic poem: Grendel (Christopher Kuckenbaker), Grendel’s Mother (Jessica Jelliffe), and the Dragon (Beth Wilmurt). Oh, and the whole thing’s set to Malloy’s nicely hodge-podged music, be it feedback (“Overture”), jungle-like techno (“Beowulf Arrives”), punk (“Body”), a dirge (“Grendel’s Death”), or even Broadway (“Ripped Him Up Good”). Rod Hipskind's fluid directing nails the emotional, even as the company's set design lights upon--at times absurdly so--the physical, and while the energy sometimes lags, the creativity never falters, and see if you don't cower when Grendel's mother keens, in Craig's childishly direct language, “I don’t fucking care how fucking men my fucking son murdered/they all fucking deserved what fucking ass pushers in fancy dress.”

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