Friday, July 11, 2008

Bouffon Glass Menajoree

Photo/Maike Schultz

Screw Tennessee Williams, that hack, and all his illusions that congeal to speak the truth. Instead, take the advice of Ten Directions, and buckle your seat belts for truth in the form of illusion, and their bouffon (anti-clown) adaptation of The Glass Menagerie. Eric Davis starts by throwing out the "memory play" narrative: with the use of a giant spiderweb-like dream catcher, he works in the nightmarish present. To this end, the characters are all played at extremes: Tom (Lynn Berg) is half-Quasimodo, half-quarterback, which reflects both his work habits and his recklessness; Amanda (Aimee Leigh German) is now a grossly obese woman, which makes her fixation on her gentleman-caller days as disturbing as her appetite; and Laura (Audrey Crabtree) isn't just physically crippled, she's mentally off, too: like an infantilized version of one of the villains in a Rob Zombie film. The aggressive, grotesque acting frequently directs them toward the audience, but their barbs are more humorous than hurtful, and often accompanied by free beer. All three of the actors have their distinct strengths, and they blend nicely, a real feat considering how much of the show seems to be improvised (especially with the final scene's "gentleman caller"). At the end of the show, the actors curse the audience with the memory of the show, but that too, is in good fun. From Berg's Robin Williams-like "night at the theater," to Crabtree's oversexed snarls and thrusts for her "unicorn," and German's mouthful of butter, having survived Bouffon Glass Menajoree, you won't really want to forget it.

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