According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pig Farm
by Aaron Riccio

What Pig Farm misses in cleverness, it makes up for in crudeness--the most lascivious, delightful kind. The kind that makes you wonder how you ever watched a political satire without such "hams" before.

(6/20) Pig Farm is a ridiculous comedy. That’s not exaggeration: Greg Kotis writes like a man freefalling through the sky while being devoured on the inside by piranhas even as his fingers spontaneously combust like fireworks on the fourth. And that’s ignoring both the surreal ending (pigs may not fly, but they might as well) and the farcical shifts in plot. Pig Farm isn’t near as good as Urinetown—much as director John Rando tries to carry that tune through to a straight show, with a bunch of lyrical blocking. But what it misses in cleverness, it makes up for in crudeness (and really, it’s a filthy, filthy play)--the most lascivious, delightful kind. The kind that makes you wonder how you ever watched a political satire without such "hams" before.

The plot, so much as there is one, is an expanded anti-government riff that stems, at least in invective and straightforwardness, from Kotis’s little-seen Eat the Taste. There is a pig farm, somewhere in America, that represents the economic plight of all pig farms, and through that, the economic plight of all mankind. For all their suffering, Tom and Tina have taken in a juvenile delinquent, Tim—a reminder not just of the free labor of a work-release program, but of Tina’s desire to have a child of her own. To make things harder (as if counting approximately 15,000 pigs wasn’t hard enough), a g-man named Teddy is expected at any moment, which means Tom’s got to dump the sludge before the rain comes and makes everything into mud. So it goes.

If these characters played it straight, this would be a terrible play. But Tom’s a violent drunk, Tina’s a baby- (and therefore sex-) crazed woman, Tim’s determined to prove himself a man, even though he’s clearly still a boy, and Teddy is one heck of a ham (and Dennis O’Hare busts his comedic chops). As the straight(est) man, Tom, John Ellison Conlee really serves as a foil for his boyish competitor, Tim, played by the exuberant and beautifully reckless Logan Marshall-Green. Green has consistently been the best thing of his last several productions (including Dog Sees God, and TV’s The O.C.), and his limitless energy seems to have raised everybody’s else’s spirits too, particuarly the fiery Katie Finneran, who might just have theater’s best and most accurate deadpan.

The art direction here—Scott Pask’s overwhelming staircase to the hidden second floor and Brian MacDevitt’s illumination of the unseen chaos out the window—also deserves note. Not only does it allow for some spectacular stunt/comic devices, but it keeps the focus on this one little slice of Americana, and our particular struggle with the adversity of age, government, and circumstance. Kotis doesn’t get eloquent about it—in fact, the majority of his script garners laughs from repeating lines—but he’s direct, and he’s honest, and most importantly, he’s funny.

[Aaron Riccio]

No comments: