Writer: Charles Ludlam
Director: Everett Quinton
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Theatre Breaking Through Barriers celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company with a revival of Charles Ludlam’s The Artificial Jungle. A campy take on film noir and Therese Raquin (Émile Zola’s first popular novel), this play is a specific style that can be jarring if one walks in not prepared for high camp. However, upon settling into the style, the audience is in for a fun ride.
Living up to its namesake movement of Ridiculous, The Artificial Jungle brings bold energy to an absurd premise. Anthony Michael Lopez’s direct, almost naturalistic performance style works as an excellent foil to David Harrell’s, as the two men in an obtuse love triangle — Zach and Chester. Alyssa H. Chase brings incredible charm to a rather Machiavellian character. Anita Hollander’s energetic portrayal of Mother Nurdinger somehow becomes amplified in Act II when she has only facial expressions to perform.
This is a fearless production, helmed by Everett Quinton. The script is strange, the premise is absurd, and there are puppet piranhas (brilliantly and comically executed by Satoshi Haga). It is uncomfortable in all the right ways, and even if the humor isn’t your typical preference, the talent in, and skilled execution of, this play, are undeniable. It is is a delightful, murderous, piranha-filled romp.
Runs until 1 July 2017