I shrink, therefore iamb
Now that man has coweringly projected his deepest anxieties onto the year 2000, Kirk Wood Bromley has written the funny and poetically correct play "Midnight Brainwash Revival" on the subject, proving that things could always be verse.
By JOSHUA TANZER
(Reviewed during original run in December 1999 at the Kraine Theater.)
If you honestly think that:
Computers throughout the world are going to melt down in a couple of weeks and plop us back into the stone age . . .
The lord is about to come down and pick himself a messiah to settle matters with the devil for all eternity . . .
You could have your head chopped off and kept in a freezer until some young, vital person with everything to live for decides to give up his or her perfectly healthy body so you can have your head attached to it . . .
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . .
Whatever apocalypse may come, it's going to happen in the mystical, alien-visited, spirit-infested desert southwest . . .
. . . then you may wish to avoid a lot of millennialist sarcasm being dished out at your expense in "Midnight Brainwash Revival," a snappy and poetic farce being performed right up to the year's fateful end at the Kraine Theater.
|MIDNIGHT BRAINWASH REVIVAL|
|Company: Inverse Theatre.|
Written by: Kirk Wood Bromley.
Directed by: Howard Thoresen.
Cast: Matthew Maher, Jeni Henaghan, Joshua Spafford, Matt Daniels, Hank Wagner, Matt Oberg, Jessica Chandlee Smith, Lara McGregor and more.
Related links: Official site
The plot of this convoluted comedy about loopy thinking, false messiahs and the possible end of the world is so involved that I've put it on a page of its own. What's especially worth noting about the play is that it's written mostly in verse and in the style of a Shakespearean comedy. Many of the lines, though, are oddball modern riffs on the bard that seem equally inspired by the Firesign Theater. The patter ranges from Shakespeare-style pun-play("Honest living, family values and the God of Growth do spurn you, sir, I witness" "You're an eyewitness to nothing but your nostrils") to downright obscure ("Oh, I could just choke him with my water"), sometimes landing in a raucously absurd middle ground ("Nay, I shall not polka to the banjo of the devil"). The main point of the evening is just to sit back and let the words flow.
Of course, we have ill-fated love scenes with a man dressed as a woman or a woman dressed as a man; we have a tragically spurned daughter (some of whose lines are direct echoes of King Lear's Cordelia); we have Falstaff and Hal characters for comic relief; and we have a closing scene in which a few master strokes resolve all the loose ends and all the characters are sent off happily ever after.
The entire ensemble capably straddles the 16th and 21st centuries, making difficult dialogue both funny and poetic but two particularly stand out. Joshua Spafford as the evil Mordecon strikes just the right combination of machismo and mugging, like a cross between a bull and Tony Curtis. And Matthew Maher as the feckless Rev. Swagart, full of insecure puffery, both dishes out and becomes the target of some of the funniest lines.
The play runs through Dec. 31 on a varied holiday schedule but culminating, so we're told, in a big New Year's Eve preach-in the "Midnight Brainwash Revival" of the title. This is only one of several plays in town to celebrate the Y2K silly season that's upon us, but if predictions hold true, it might just be the last show you ever need to see.
|DECEMBER 16, 1999|
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