Culturebot Recommends: Bouffon Glass Menajoree
Something insidious is happening to Tenessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie at the Brick Theatre in Williamsburg, it’s been transmogrofied by a trio of devlish perfomers into a warped, full-tilt assault called the Bouffon Glass Menajoree.
A deliciously twisted parody, the show plays like a bizarro CliffsNotes version of the American classic, with turns both hilarious and disturbing. It’s as if matriarch Amanda Wingfield’s beloved Blue Mountain was akin to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
The broken dream catcher that dominates the stage is the ideal metaphor for the twisted versions of Tennessee Williams’ classic characters: from Amanda Wingfield’s exceedingly ample maternal bosom (she looks like she’s smuggling two zeppelins beneath her white tank top) and addiction to food, to the boozy Tom, here seething and mincing like a faggy Quasimodo, and finally Laura, in shredded hospital gown and sporting a number of bruises, more Girl, Interrupted than shy, typing school drop-out, the performers push the characters faults and flaws to horrific extremes.
But what of the gentleman caller, the last hope for young Laura and the Wingfield clan? Every night a new audience member is plucked from the crowd to fill the role, sucked down the rabbit hole and onto the stage. On the evening we saw the show, a game hipster played along so well you’d swear he was planted there. This is one of the very few productions where the cringe-inducing concept of “audience participation” actually succeeds.
Clocking in at a brisk hour and a quarter, the show manages to alternately startle, amuse, and offend in such a dizzying blur that you barely have time to absorb its genius before it ends.
All the particulars, after the jump.
Gentlemen callers beware: The Wingfields plume their nest with broken glass, twisted morals, and perverted minds. Each night a new audience member will get to play the role of Jim, the gentlemen caller, Tom, Amanda and Laura claim no responsibility for your hurt feelings or offended sentiments. Tennessee Williams is spinning in his grave. Why would anyone do this to an American Masterpiece?
What can I expect?
The Wingfield apartment is composed of a broken dream catcher, woven from the clotheslines of this American family’s dirty laundry, washed with in the antiquated colors of a long forgotten photograph. These three bouffons invite you to be a fly on the wall as they attempt to lure a gentlemen caller for their precious Laura. Audiences take heed you just might be the one to get caught in their wickedly funny web.
What is bouffon?
Director Eric Davis says: “Grotesque in nature, often physically deformed, the bouffon is the outcast shunned by society and told to live outside of the village. On rare occasions, they are asked to perform for the pleasure of those who previously persecuted them. On these occasions the bouffons willingly accept. (What choice do they have? Perform or be killed!) Thus, these hideous creatures enter the circle of society once more, light on their feet, eternally smiling with hateful eyes. Charming, entertaining and smart, they plan to take the piss out of you all!”
Who is this group?
Director Eric The Red Bastard Davis, Lynn Berg, Audrey Crabtree and Aimee German worked on the clown and bouffon inspired Deenie Nast, a multimedia comic-biography of a mega-celebrity, and in the form of Commedia Del arte they performed together as Arlecchino, Sister Betty, & Tartaglia at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the original play, Saint Arlecchino. The trio of performers has worked as a group, in pairs or solo in clown and bouffon at CBGB’s, The Bowery Poetry Club, Galapagos, Parkside Lounge, The Improv, UCB, The Pit and at the monthly Kick-ass Clown Cabaret at CRS. All four of the collaborators have studied clown and bouffon with Master Teacher Sue Morrison, and have extensive training and performance history in improvisation and acting.
Bouffon Glass Menajoree [site]
The Brick [site]