Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Carrots continue to impress. This time they head East for source material from Russian phenoms the Presnyakov Brothers. Playing Dead is a rollicking farce, a tragic slapstick comedy, a re-imagining of Hamlet via Chekov and Dostoevski. The central character is roguish loustabout Valya, living at home with mom in his 30s after failing to graduate University. His dreams are troubled by visits from his father's ghost, who hints he was done in by mom and Valya's uncle. Valya exists in post-Commie Russia where all the mores and expectations of Soviet life have come unravelled and there's a cut-throat inrush of competing systems and external cultures. Gangstas pop caps in asses in sushi bars which serve vodka. There are wars with small nations whose former populations make up big swaths of Russia's multiethnic populace. Because Valya's bored with life and scared of death, he takes a job playing the victim in crime re-enactments at the local police department in order to "get a little taste" of dying, to ease into it. Alas, poor Yorick, nyuk nyuk nyuk.
I laughed heartily and often. One scene was so audacious that watching other patrons' reactions was in itself a treat. The Carrot ensemble has proven their mettle with curious source material in the past, and again they are remarkably resourceful in staging an intricate and complexly choreographed play in their tiny space off North Ave. Some performers play multiple roles and everyone can change mood dramatically and effectively as the material requires. Not a dud in the bunch, and Playing Dead really allows the Carrots to show their incredible physicality!
The seating arrangment and stage are again set up so that spectators are practically in the action--watch for flying spittle if you're in the front row!
You will laugh, you might be disturbed, and you will confront mortality in troubling ways. And then you will laugh again. I can't recommend this show enough.