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A CurtainUp Review
by Les Gutman
THIS TRUCK MAKES FREQUENT STOPS AND WIDE
One of the conventional maxims is that great theater is all about real estate. And there is a certain amount of truth in this.
Vagabond theater companies waste precious creative time finding spaces in which to perform, and, once found, even more time trying to figure out
how to connect their sound and light boards to the power supply without blowing all the fuses. Collapsable Giraffe and Radiohole, two intrepid experimental theater companies
whose work we have seen and admired in other venues before (see links to reviews below), have now established their very own beachhead
in Williamsburg, of all places, in a 1200 square foot garage. It's an idea that unavoidably brings to mind the The Wooster Group (to whom both of these companies have a more than
casual connection), whose home at the Performing Garage in Soho has afforded it the luxury of comfortably nurturing its experiments.
I mention all of this because, once entering (watch your step), you'll find few other maxims in force. From the nude box office attendant (Scott Halvorsen Gillette) to the tub of free beer, you've entered a world in which few rules are followed. It's theater as pizza party, although you'll have to imagine the pizza unless, of course, you happen to bring it along.
Bend Your Mind Off is an entropic mix of (inter alia) performance, dance and song that dares its audience to keep its head on straight while being pummeled with entertainment. The mayhem belies the sure-footedness of its cast of seven (including Mr. Gillette who serves as a sort of Master of Ceremonies/Maître d'hôtel). This "performance of splintered narratives and gleeful degradations" (quoting the press release) is sourced in stories about the Baader Meinhof gang (hence its title) and the films of Fassbinder and East Village sex/violence film-maker R. Kern, among other pleasantries. Noir, you guess? Not a chance.
There's little future in summarizing what (if anything) Bend Your Mind Off is "about". One of its goals, its creators would no doubt tell us, is precisely to frustrate any such effort. So I'm not going to try -- we'll leave this one in the category of "needs to be experienced to be appreciated". Here are a few shards of what you can expect (representing perhaps ten percent, I would estimate, of what's on display):
programming Williamsburg girls into new wave hookers, man walking on the moon (here vividly portrayed by Jim Findlay wearing a welder's mask and several layers of clothing), a laughing contest interrupted by a weather girl who always reports the forecast is sunny, a story about a legless Florida fruit grower who now grows root vegetables because they are closer to the ground, a fairly explicit dance having to do with disembodied dicks in Lodi, N.J. and a song memorializing the night four Baader Meinhof members attempted suicide, detailing how three succeeded and -- in the saddest part, we are told -- one (Irmgard Möller, who tried to kill herself with a butter knife) failed.
Eric Dyer does several things during the show by virtue of which he could easily be seriously injured. This night he walked away with nary a scratch. Perhaps if you go, he won't be so lucky. In any event, I recommend the Dominican beer, but I wouldn't drink the water. There's no telling what they've done to it. Enjoy.
Review of Collapsable Giraffe's 3 Virgins
Review of Radiohole's The History of Heen (Not Francis E. Dec)
BEND YOUR MIND OFF
Created by Collapsable Giraffe and Radiohole
with Erin Douglass, Eric Dyer, Iver
Findlay, Jim Findlay, Scott Halvorsen Gillette, Maggie Hoffman and Amy Huggans
Costume Design: Tara Webb
Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
A co-production of Collapsable Giraffe and Radiohole
Collapsable Giraffe website: www.collapsablegiraffe.org
Radiohole website: www.radiohole.com
Collapsable Hole, 146 Metropolitan Avenue (@ Berry Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Telephone (718) 388-2251
[We don't normally give explicit subway directions, but for those Manhattanites who fear what will happen if they stay on a train as it passes under the East River, we'll make an exception: L Train to Bedford Avenue -- that's the next stop after 1st Avenue. Exit rear of train onto Bedford Avenue/7 Street. Walk against traffic on Bedford 5 short blocks to Metropolitan Ave., turn right and walk 1 block across Berry Street. The theater will be on your left.]
Wed. - Sat. @9; $10
Opening 2/17/01 Closing 3/3/01
Reviewed by Les Gutman based on 2/21/01 performance