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      Red Frogs
    Warts and all

    "Red Frogs," based on Aristophanes' "The Frogs" and a host of other influences, leaves us a little bit at sea as to its murky meaning.


    According to the program, "Red Frogs" is inspired by Aristophanes' "The Frogs," Karl Marx, Charlie Chaplin, the idea of a divine comedy and the Iraq Liberation Action Committee, of which the playwright, Ruth Margraff is a member.

    That eclectic hodgepodge of a list may give you some idea of what's in store in this play. "Red Frogs" is a whirlwind trip on the cultural cyclone. The play throws history, pop culture, sex, politics and media saturation into the stylistic blender and firmly pushes the chop, blend and liquefy buttons all at once. The trouble is, someone forgot to put the lid on that blender and the audience has to gaze at the splatterings on the ceiling and try to figure out what is happening as the play goes on.

    Written by: Ruth Margraff.
    Directed by: Elyse Singer.
    Based on The Frogs by: Aristophanes.
    Cast: Crystal Bock, Nicole Lowrance, Stacie Karen Robinson, Molly Powell, Steven Rattazzi, Nina Hellman.
    P.S. 122
    150 First Ave. at 9th St.
    Feb. 28 - March 24, 2002

    Set in both a surreal Coney Island and cartoonish Nantucket, with a giant crab and huge French's mustard nozzle in the background, Red Frogs tells the loopy tale of media mogul Beatifica Strata as she is plagued by a chorus seeking a sort of cultural vengance upon her.

    She also has altercations with her dog (played by Steven Rattazi) and her maid, with whom she engages in oral sex at one point. (You may not want to bring the kids to this one.) What rescues "Red Frogs" from being simply unintelligible are the performances, which are all outstanding. All the actors put a lot of passion and life into their roles, which makes the play engaging to watch, yet it's so difficult to follow that it can leave you frustrated. In all, "Red Frogs" is a mind-warping exercise in surreal storytelling.

    MARCH 12, 2002

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