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|A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
By Jana J. Monji
Somewhere between the chorus girls of yesteryear's musicals and the surreal meanderings of a French circus, is the dimension inhabited by Ken Roht's musical theater performance piece, Echo's Hammer. This a world premiere, a two-hour trifle about love that is touched by lust, is written, directed and choreographed by Roht.
There isn't actually a character alled Echo but there are hammers and not all of them are the tools you use for nails. Pon (Roht) and Deedo (Bill Celentano) are lovers and inventors. They bicker and flirt and ignore their servant, Nancy (Kristen-Lee Kelly). In the background, uncle (Jack Kandel), a Germanic cobbler, sings and creates practical crafts. Pon tells Deedo he's the "constant source of my unhappiness" while Deedo asks Pon, "Are you my inspiration?"
Pon and Deedo inhabit a workshop with wheels and hammers and assorted clutter. Above them is a goddess-like Amazement (Laura Martin) who provides Cirque du Soleil-like vocalizations -- gloriously melodic yet devoid of lyrics. Upstage on opposite sides are two metal cages inhabited by another fighting couple, the middle-aged Cheryl (Geraldine Singer) and Frank (Don Oscar Smith).
While the news tells about a world in our future with clones and other scientific disasters, Cheryl and Frank, neither paying much attention to each othe, from time to time crawl out onto a catwalk running beneath their cages and meetin in the center to playout sleezy interactions between two randy strangers at a bar.
Pon and Deedo attempt to create an invention to glorify themselves and a relationship that excludes Nancy. The contraption they assemble actually resembles modern art -- as this piece is more akin to performance art than a cohesive story.
Roht creates an odd mix of lust, dysfunction, love, jealousy -- past and present. Echo Hammer isn't as wonderfully loopy as his "99 Cent Only Show" that giddily celebrated cheapness. What we get are some moments that are amazing, some that are amusing and some that just jar one out of one's revery.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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