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.

Monday, September 18, 2006

FRINGE 2006 (Encore): The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos

Everything you love about theater and more, The Deepest Play Ever is deep like a delicious slice of deep-dish pizza or a thick slab of pie, that is, it's good all the way down. A slick, swift comedy, the play mocks everything from Brecht to violence to zombies and back: and it's one wild, thrilling ride.

Reviewed by Aaron Riccio

Ever see a high-brow fart joke before? Let The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos, for which Geoffrey Decas won the 2006 Fringe award for Outstanding Playwriting, show you some dancing zombies rip people to shreds. Though one could easily imagine an entire play dedicated to musical numbers involving zombies and the post-post-apocalypse of World War V, Decas's script goes way beyond easy laughs: it parodies Mother Courage, for one, on Brecht's intellectual level. If anything, the cheap laughs are there to make sure there's something for everyone: the play is so overwhelmingly full of meaning that if you blink, you'll miss something.

The satire operates as ironic allegory about the endless cycle of violence and warns against the destruction of art. Or the parody operates as a violent attack on the endless cycle of ironic allegory. Or something: just know that Mother LaMadre is pushing a cart from scene to scene, aided by Time as Narrator, abetted by her cadre of children (the retarded KitKat and beloved Golden Calf), and hindered by the villainous Dalvador Sali. Oh yeah, and Mephistopholis, Delilah, Persephone, et. al. show up too, for shits, giggles, and well, mostly giggles. Accents? We've got those too: the subtly Irish Swiss Cheese, the over-the-top French prostitute, Yvette La Guerre, not to mention the styled Britishcisms of most of the cast. The dramatic overtones, the hushed whispers for emphasis, every stylistic nuance of theater gets represented here.

The trick to The Deepest Play Ever isn't that Decas managed to cram so much into his script, or that Ryan Purcell managed to justify all of it in the direction, or even that Boo Killebrew made it look so pretty through the choreography. It's that it all works, on so many clever levels: an astonishing feat of what a dedicated theater group (CollaborationTown) can accomplish. A bunch of curtains get stretched across the wooden O (read: the stage) to transform the scenes, the delightfully glib performance of Phillip Taratula (as Time as Narrator) segues between them, the puppetry of Golden Child and Mephistopholis keep us on our toes, as do the dancing and singing ensemble and the accusatory multimedia ("Is your heart a dead acorn of filth, human? Well, is it?"). Fantastic, enjoyable theater: watch out for Decas and CollaborationTown.

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