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A CurtainUp Review
Boozy: The Life, Death, and Subsequent Vilification of Le Corbusier and, more importantly, Robert Moses

Boozy Gets a Second Run

This show had a previous run at the Ohio Theater . Now it's moved to 45 Bleeker Street, 212/307-4100..another off-off-Broadway location -- 45 Bleeker Street, 212/307-4100 --for another limited run from 5/01/05 to 5/28/05-- with an official re-opening set for 5/11/05. See the review below for details. -- Elyse Sommer

-- The Original Review

Your municipal obsession
Found munificent expression in
High-density public housing.
-- from a gospel-like hymn to Robert Moses sung by a group of citizens. The "get things done" Moses had no problem with the adoration of the masses, as evident to this speech to a crowd at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Triborough Bridge:
I feel blessed to be named after civilization's first great master builder. Of Course, I'm talking about the Moses. And just as he had a vision for Egypt, I have a righteous vision for this city. A master plan for all of New York.
Jacob Grigolia  as Robert Moses &  Nina Hellman as Jane Jacobs
Jacob Grigolia as Robert Moses & Nina Hellman as Jane Jacobs
It's quite a mouthful, that title for Les Freres Corbusier's new foray into the hipster territory pioneered by the likes of Richard Foreman and the Wooster Group. But then, underneath the giddy circus surface and cheeky deconstruction of historical fact, Boozy (as in Le Corbusier) aims to be a timely and serious contemplation on urban planning. It continues the group's free-wheeling factionalizations of famously flawed but charismatic figures -- in this case urban planner Robert Moses (1888-1981) by way of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), the visionary French architect whose name this audacious newcomer to the avant-garde scene adopted.

The Ohio Theatre, a spacious, chameleonic space that easily adapts itself to the needs of its generally highly imaginative tenants, is ideally suited to this idea-a-minute production. Besides singing and dancing interludes, there are a variety of spaces to accommodate Studs Terkel-like cameos, cages with live rabbits, plus all manner of multi-media effects. The show uses every inch of the theater so that there barely seems room for the audience members. Just keeping up with the constantly shifting action and images is enough to keep them on the edge of their folding seats .

Two video screens and voiceovers present replays from New York's 1939-40 World's Fair Futurama exhibit by General Motors. A larger video screen with a numbered map and constant pop-ups of bridges, highways and parks the numbers represent gives early arrivals a chance to familiarize themselves with the famous landmarks (the Verazano-Narrows Bridge, Jones Beach, etc) that contributed to Robert Moses' legend as a man who lived up to the "get things done" slogan that won him fans (and eventually, enemies). That slogan permeates the high jinx staging and prompts one of several ensemble songs.

You might call Boozy a historical happening. At first, the main character seems to be the French architect Le Corbusier (Daniel Larlham) -- but as soon as a young urban planner Robert Moses (Jacob Grigolia) appears one of the peppy hosts quickly instructs the audience to "pay attention to him, he's the real protagonist." And while LeCorbusier's vision jump started that of Moses, he and a long list of other torn from the pages of history are support players in the saga of the twenty-first century's own Moses, played by tall, dark and handsome Grigolia as a sort of warts and all super hero full of evangelical zest.

These supporting players include Jane Jacobs (Nina Hellman) the Manhattanite who championed sidewalks over high rise projects and home displacing, traffic creating highways and bridges. In Boozy we first meet her as Le Corbusier's croissant-baking mistress. Also making regular appearances are Joseph Goebbels (Simon Feil), Franklin D. Roosevelt (Ryan Karels), Nelson Rockefeller (Ian Oldaker), a gay (as in homosexual rather than jolly) Fiorello La Guardia (John Summerour), Benito Mussolini (Summerour, again ). Oh, and not to be overlooked are the ghost of Napoleon the 3rd's chief architect, Baron Von Haussman (Keith Price, also doubling as Shah Reza Pahlavi who's French kissed by Mussolini-- really!) and a more recent architectural celebrity, Daniel Libeskind (Brian McTaminey).

Interspersed into these historic celebrity scenes hell bent on being hysterically funny, are two talking heads on video screens at either side of the stage to offer straightforward observations on the various pros and cons of the Moses legend. They represent former NYC mayor John Lindsay and Moses biographer Robert Caro (The Power Broker).

What about those rabbits? Well, actually there's some architectural logic to their presence since procreating rabbits are said to have been used by architects as illustrations of LeCorbusier's claim that human happiness can be found within a cage-sized space and that as the play's Boozy puts it, "petit lapin reveal the secrets of geometry to me." Not content with the live rabbits conceit, the conceptual team (Juliet Chia, David Evans Morri, and Alex Timbers) also introduces a filmed scene in which rabbits dressed up as Mussolini, FDR and Goebbels discuss their Machiavellian scheme to destroy the world in order to rebuild it.

There's no denying that Les Freres Corbusier has the sort of bright and daring energy that attracts the young people more conventional theatrical enterprises are so eager to attract. Unfortunately, much of the funny business in this biodrama's manic effort to engage audiences in a subject usually reserved for college classrooms loses its edge about half way through the show. As Moses' grand highways and bridges had the negative effect of massive traffic jams, so Les Freres Corbusier's idea of exploring an important subject entertainingly is hobbled by humor that is often more witless than witty.

My reservations about Boozy's too sophomoric tendencies aside, you'll have to look uptown, downtown and all around this town to find a show that has this much energy, innovative stagecraft and theatrical chutzpah for so little money. A caveat: Your $15 is for general seating. While all seats are good, the best seats are in the middle but towards the back of the theater, and in the rear rather than the front rows. Oh, and one more consumer note: According to an ad in the program you might even be able take one of those cute rabbits home with you. If the ones at the Ohio stage are all snapped up, the Rabbit Rescue and Rehab organization in the Bronx has included its e-mail address to accommodate all who yearn for their very own bunny.

For a review of a previous Les Freres Corbusier show reviewed at
, see President Harding is a Rock Star

Boozy: The Life, Death, and Subsequent Vilification of Le Corbusier and, More Importantly, Robert Moses

Conceived by: Juliet Chia, David Evans Morris, and Alex Timbers
Directed by: Alex Timbers
Original Songs: Douglas J. Cohen
Cast: Jacob Grigolia as Robert Moses, Nina Hellman as Jane Jacobs, Daniel Larlhamas Le Corbusier, John Summerour as Fiorello LaGuardia, Ryan Karels as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ian Oldaker as Nelson Rockefeller, Simon Feil as Joseph Goebbels, Keith Price as Baron Von Haussmann; and an ensemble cast of Virginia Callaway, Matt DeVriendt, Shareefah Hamilton, Scott Hoffer, Leslie Klug, Brian McTaminey, Elizabeth Meriwether, Max Miner, and Mary C. Wilson Choreography: Katherine Profeta
Scenic Design: David Evans Morris
Lighting Design: Juliet Chia
Costume Design: Jenny Mannis
Video Design: Jake Pinholster
Sound Design: Bart Fasbender
Properties Design: Harry Rosenblum
Dramaturgy: Anne Davison
Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, without an intermission.
Ohio Theater. 66 Wooster Street (Spring & Broome), 212-868-4444
2/12/05 to 3/05/05; opening 2/17/05.
Tickets: $15 -- general admisssion
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on 2/14 press performance performance
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