Number 3: March, 2000

Number 3: March, 2000

The battle for the Orlando Art Mausoleum hangs in the
balance – Can Mayor Hood chase those pesky Methodists off their God –
given and fully-paid-for land downtown, or will dentist Gordy wrench
this crown from the jaws of victory? Can the Power Puff Girl save the
only monument she’s likely to get her name on at this late date? Zoinks
– tune in next month when the votes are counted and the corpses of
political careers are hauled from the killing fields of O-town!

Moby Dick
By Herman Melville
Adapted and directed by Ken Conner
Theater Downtown
Staring Mark March, Lou Hilaire, Larue Jackson

Call me impressed. Idealistic Ishmael (March), no longer satisfied
with the abuse in the merchant marine service, signs up for 3 years
before the whaling mast. Along with master harpooner QueeQueg (Jackson), he sets off with deranged Captain Ahab (Hilaire) and a crew of mimes
to hunt the oily cetaceans. Ahab has cracked the whale code, and can
predict where and when whales will appear. While this could accelerate
the ultimate extermination of the blubbery mammals, Ahab has a higher
calling in mind – vengeance. It seems a certain albino with a taste for
sea captain appendages did him wrong, and he means to even the score.
Moby turns up just as he planned, strong as a norwester and not amused
by Ahab’s persistence. Ship and crew are lost, with none but the soggy
Ishmael left to tell the tale. It’s sad, but short.

Moby represents a Primal Force, something Man cannot fight with any
certainty, nor set on stage. The minimal set forces the crew to create
the space and sense of sea by action alone Subtle sound effects and a
cast swaying with Star Trek precision create a tinge of sea sickness in
the audience. Whale boats are small, and no one gets to leave the stage
for the entire show. Tuneless sea chanteys complete the mood.

Melville’s novel is long and difficult, but Connor’s adaptation renders
it like the liver of a whale, leaving only the essential oil of man’s
struggle against the elements. You can pray to your gods, you can temper
the finest steel with blood, and you can contain the entire world in
your head. Yet when the time comes, when your time comes, you are at
time’s mercy. Keep you lines taut and your harpoon sharp, and leave
vengeance to God.

Three Penny Opera
By Bethold Brecht and Kurt Weill
Orlando Theater Project and Seminole Community College
Director – Bobbie Bell

In order to extract the last crumbs of money from the poor, one must
exactly follow the letter of the law. That’s the policy of J.J. Peachum,
outfitter and licenser of London’s begging community. It’s a closed
shop, and like the teamsters, no one cuts in.. No tickee, no beggee.
Now married to his daughter Polly is another London Legitimate Business
Man, deadly Mackie MacHeath, alias Mac the Knife. A multitalented
artist, he works in murder, pimping, arson, and provides critical
employment to London’s criminal class. He also extracts a toll from
those not likely to get a Gold card, just in a bit more direct manner.
Papa’ none too pleased, as running a brothel isn’t quite as upscale as
shaking down cripples. Vendetta and operetta ensure and soon enough,
it’s hang time for Mackie.

A combination of professionals and student work together to stage this
recently re-translated classic of Weimar Germany. A series of slides
projected over the proscenium adds a Tennessee Williams feel to this
portal of man’s bestiality to fellow man. The mixture of Pro and Am
makes the production bit uneven, but still enjoyable. Several players
stood out, including MacHeath (John DiDonna), the over-the-top Polly
(Jacqueline Grad), and best of all the rubbery Josh Siniscalco as Mr.
Peachum, who looks like John Cleese without any bones. Music came from
a cheesy wheezy barrel organ played on a synthesizer, lending a suitably
low-class note to the evening.

Never one to mince words, Brecht preaches the real misery of poverty,
true today as in the 1923 German economic collapse. You’re taken in by
the story, hoping to see Mack swing but in the end its you who feels the
guilt. Give a buck to a bum – maybe they’re too lazy to work, but maybe
they’re not. You don’t get to decide.

Love Notes: A St. Valentines Day Pastoral
Performance Space Orlando
Written by John Shanley, Dorothy Parker, Sam Shepard, and others
Directed by Arlen Bensen

Love is a multi-variate problem, as I’m sure your calculus professor
reminded you every February 14. Opening this year’s solution at Bistro
PSO is a paean to the romantic man that tamed the American West, at
least in the minds of those who don’t travel much. Big guy J.J.
Ruscella roars into the intimate PSO room, looking for love and whiskey,
not necessarily in that order, and not too good if you please. What
would a good woman do to win him, and save him from those twin evils men
love so much? It’s not healthy, that’s certain. Ruscella and Angela Jo
Strohm swing from the wild west to the even wilder high school years,
exploring what it takes to have a first love, and even more dangerously
to express that love with the six gun of rejection always lurking around
the corner.

Interspersed with poetry, readings, and a segment from Shepard’s “Danny
and the Deep Blue Sea”, Love Notes constructs a strong presentation for
the packed house of lovers and others. Intimate is a bit of an
understatement for this tiny venue, especially with the Bistro seating,
beach blanket bingo wine chillers, and a half dozen active actors
bouncing around emoting. The evening’s finale showcased Sam Shepard and
Joseph Chaikin’s post-beat poem “Savage/Love.” With the cast safely
tucked up on chairs on risers, each equipped with a personal lamp
dimmer, they described the fracture of love, one phase at a time. This
show is certainly a BYOB – Bring your own boyfriend.

Literary Erotica and Sensual Nonsense
Performance Space Orlando

Experiments, whether theatrical or scientific, sometimes succeed and
sometimes fail. This evening of experimental performances and reading is
no exception. The theme was Love and Sex, all in honor of one of the
main guilt holidays (Christmas and Mother’s Day are the other two
leading examples). The strongest piece opened the show, with drag king
Brian Alexander reading “The night the lights went out in Georgia.” This
piece of backwoods pop sleaze takes on an entire new meaning with
the addition of the world weary TV confessing to messing in the wrong spot.

Another strong piece took up a Point/Counterpoint discussion of the
etiquette of oral sex. Sexy Sandy Nelson took the point for the “It’s
not required, so be glad” side, while David MacKey covered the “Jane you
ignorant slut” angle. Tasteless? Of course. Enlightening? Not really.
That’s why it was so good.

Weaker pieces include a reading of ‘dirty’ jokes, non quite up to
Playboy standards (I always read it for the jokes. And the nudity. But
mostly for the jokes). A review of selections from the Victorian Erotica
collection “The Pearl” was interesting, but suffered from the narrator
stumbling over the words, and searching for the sections she was to
read.

LE & SN represents the fourth cut at presenting literary naughtiness to
a select audience in a continually evolving presentation. Some of these
pieces are ready to expand to the relatively wider audience of the Fringe
Festival, and some are only fit to suspend in formaldehyde for future
caution. Caveat Amator.

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