Powerful, Painful Comedy Abounds at Tricklock’s Revolutions Fest
Imagine if The White Stripes and Mike Myers’s Saturday Night Live character Dieter had children. The result might look like Die Roten Punkte, an outrageous musical clown act that kicked off the 2014 Revolutions International Theatre Festival. Consisting of Astrid and Otto, the performance’s conceit is that the two were orphaned as children and ended up as squatters, then rockers, in that über-cool city, Berlin. They come replete with suspiciously camped-up German accents.
They offer a send-up of a dysfunctional rock band, complete with tensions around alcoholism, mommy-daddy issues, and dark German songs. One item is a long story song that began with one of them interrupting their parents having sex, then all four walking to the train that eventually ran over their parents. Another, “Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am A Lion),” is a parody of industrial music.
Otto does the classic rock-scissor kicks in the air while playing around three chords. He sports ghostly white makeup, giant rouged lips and a CBGB t-shirt, while Astrid sneaks sips of forbidden vodka from a bottle stashed behind her drum set.
Also in a dark clowning tradition, “Molly” is a premier by Spain’s David Blanco in collaboration with Tricklock. The show begins and ends in a madhouse with our hero strait-jacketed. He’s timid and dull, shuffling to and from work uneventfully until a green suitcase named Molly begins talking to him and encouraging him to become the person he always wanted to be.
Blanco also plays the stage manager executing nimble physical comedy with a folding chair as his main character, sleepwalking through life, tries following Molly’s urgings to break out outrageously and dance in his underwear – à la Tom Cruise – to a Bob Seger song. She warns him that if he doesn’t follow her instructions, he won’t ever be able to lose her. As a stand-in for his psyche — or conscience — Molly’s belligerence proves too much for him and he attempts suicide. The physical comedy of clowning, though, turned this into a hilarious sequence where he simulates jumping from a building, “wind” whipping his coat as he falls.
Another gifted comedian and actor, Lauren Weedman (pictured at right), makes a third Revolutions appearance. Her quest is to find a city besides Los Angeles in which to raise her young son and to antidote her midlife crisis. The result is a raw work-in-progress, carried along by Weedman’s manic, rapid-fire descriptions and dizzying embodiment of various characters and emotions. She has explored several cities now and her most recent show, “Good For You, Albuquerque,” is a mix of impressions gleaned from her visits to Duran’s Central Pharmacy where she eavesdrops and chats with locals.
Weedman’s adventures also take her to a thrift store to discuss racial tension (two Latino guys tell her that a better place to find it is in Tennessee) and the Palms Trading Co. where she asks a Native American jeweler about dealing with tourists. She also gives a funny description of failing her dominatrix training at the Self-Serve Sex Store. Conclusion: Albuquerque has a lot of strong, “bad-ass women.” I hope she comes back to show the finished version of this work that kept me laughing.
Other works in progress at the festival, called Excavations, spotlight Tricklock’s resident artists. One by Elsa Menendez and Dodie Montgomery, “The Mirror Project,” was particularly notable. The two explore how women both see and undermine themselves no matter how much they have accomplished.
The final weekend saw French duo Macadâmes returning with the premiere of “Without Words,” based on Samuel Beckett’s “Act Without Words II.” In this case, however, the two characters are male and female and they trace the trajectory of a love affair, from the first heady days of infatuation to settling into routines, then into familiarity that breeds — not contempt, necessarily, but a daily grind that eliminates joy.
The result is depressing, but also break-through theater because of the ability of these two actors to communicate so much without ever speaking. It was heartbreaking to see one, then the other, try at various points to communicate, to find that initial spontaneity that brought them together. The production said more wordlessly in one hour about human relationships than most plays offer, with constant dialogue, in twice the time.