I’m not sure I would call Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie a play, as such, if only because a play suggests an exterior blueprint which is then built or enacted by a group of performers and designers. The Mad Ones appear to build out – they start with what is generally interior, a collection of tiny behavioral tells that shape human intention, and construct around it.
through sharing, repeating, layering, and rephrasing, the company finds a way to both underline and subvert the brutality without explicitly pointing at it.
It’s not so much a communing with the dead as an un-containing of the self, casting meaning into the void, hoping perhaps to receive some echo of that meaning back, in the shape of a hug, or song, or strip of tin foil torn from the wall.
Tina Satter’s direction and Half Straddle’s pitch-perfect company establish and then maintain an unblinking focus that cuts through the dissipating fog and rewards the audience’s taut attention.
The Making of King Kong sets out to unpack the monstrosity of our current cultural moment via the monkey, simultaneously evoking a 1930s acting style (transatlantic accents abound) while complicating itself with very-much-now identity politic-infused dialogue.
While the subject matter is dead serious, the style and aesthetic approach feels giddy, unafraid of big stupid choices when they’re appropriate.
There is pain, hurt, lovesickness for miles in every direction, emanating from this club across the country, world, and intergalactic beyond.
What makes this Oklahoma more than just smart is how it ruthlessly strips away the glaze of nostalgia that usually accompanies such restagings in order to uncover what seemingly must have always lurked there, submerged just below the musical’s glossy surface.
Payne keeps his audience from jumping ahead to any particular conclusion by deploying a second (bigger, metatheatrical) frame around Karma’s story, one in which the house lights keep coming up and we are rendered, without a choice, visible – to the actors, to the audience, and (most disturbingly) to ourselves.
Their movement allows them to take up all the space, filling the stage all the way to the frame.
We share our sweat, our humidity, our heat. We weather it, as Kelly does inside the box.
What was I doing? Why was I here? What had I hoped to achieve from this? So many people I didn’t know! Communal living having its obvious benefits, but not that easy to suddenly just find one’s self there in the thick of it.