The Street of Crocodiles
By Bruno Schultz
Director Julia Listengarten
Starring Jeffery Allen Sneed, Elena Scaringe-Peene, and Carson L Betts
I’m hard to stump, but this show stopped me cold. I try to go into theater with no preparation, that is, I don’t read the script or the Wiki; I just let he story flow. ” The Street of Crocodiles” didn’t so much flow over me as it wiped me out and swept me down stream, like a mobile home parked in an Arroyo. The heart of this evening is a collection of short stories by Bruno Shultz, born in the Ukraine. He brings us his family and life using complex metaphors and nightmarish dream sequences. We open with Joseph (Sneed) sorting books under a Nazi gun; his orders are to destroy anything Jewish. We then flash back to his early days in a well off house in an unpronounceable Ukrainian town. His father (Betts) runs a fabric shop, experiments with electricity, and keeps birds in the attic. His mother (Annaliese Banks) rules the house as a stream of friends, relatives, and nightmares cross the stage. The servant girl Adela (Scaringe-Peene) abuses the family as best she can; its a fair trade for the desire she arouses in all the men on this stage. Its a madcap house, full of potentially mad people. Thus, it reflects the world Shultz lived in s the chaos of Nazism arose in Europe.
We have a life here more than a story. Narrative is weak or obscure, but energy and anger pile high. Up in the rafters live a collection birds; when angered they fling stage poo on the family below. Traps open releasing the fumes of hell, banned books and banned soul plunge in as servants are abused, children are abused, and parents are abused. I don’t know what to take away, other than we may be heading to this same nightmare outside. It may be hard to catch this show (sold out for the run as I hear) but it’s not something that appears on stage often, and for good reason.