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, April 06, 2009

Crazy Head Space

From “Addiction” to “Zoophilia,” Crazy Head Space, the premiere production of nascent theater company Abraxas provides a musical interpretation for an alphabet’s worth of psychiatric disorders. Though its efforts to be all encompassing stretch the production a little thin, the talented cast is the best part of the production.

Reviewed by Ilena George

Pulling diagnoses from the DSM IV and covering a variety of musical genres, Crazy Head Space is a literal A(dditction) to Z(oophilia) revue of mental disorders. Like the eclectic (bordering on overly eccentric) costumes and make-up, each letter’s song doesn't always quite fit into a cohesive whole. For instance, some of the numbers play up the seriousness of mental illness--from the hollow emptiness of borderline personality disorder to the self-destructive compulsions that drive eating disorders--while others are more celebratory of life on the tail ends of the Gaussian distribution, including a hilarious and colorful ode to "shop[ping] without a wallet" in "Kleptomania."

The sections caught between the lights and darks of disorders end up coming off badly. For example, in “Relapse,” the humor isn't dark enough to keep the jokes from feeling a little too easy (a recovering alcohol turns to vodka to solve the problem of her overbearing mother’s visiting)-- and it takes the really kooky numbers to “even out” the show, as with “Vagina Envy” (“God lost her genius when/She made the penis”). It’s not exactly subtle, but that’s when Crazy Head Space is at its best, for then it strongly evokes a mood or a feeling, exploring the way mental disorders can entrap and confine, or celebrating people who push the envelope of what's expected.

Despite a huge cast (brimming with talented singers and dancers), the small space makes for an intimate production. However, if the point is to put a human face to some mental diseases (as shown in the closing number), where is the humanity? There’s no bridge between the scenes (only wacky off-stage muttering), and that limits the evening to a characterless revue. Crazy Head Space is a varied and somewhat unpredictable romp through a wide range of mental disorders, but it needs to work on those side effects.
Crazy Head Space
Directed by Errickson Wilcox
Lyrics by Elisabeth S. Davis, Music by Elisabeth S. Davis and Michelangelo Sosnowitz
March 6th-April 5th
@ Seaport! (210 Front Street at Beekman Street)
For tickets:

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