Saturday, October 16, 2010

There Will Be Bodily Fluids Other Than Blood: Molotov's "Blood Sweat & Fears III: The Red Velvet Curtain"

Just in time for spooky season, Molotov transgresses yet again!

"Blood Sweat & Fears III: The Red Velvet Curtain" is their latest assault on the sensibilities of the delicate.  Thankfully, my sensibilities are anything but delicate, so I rushed down for opening night, and got my favorite seat, in the front row, and sneered over my shoulder at the wimps behind me, all cautiously avoiding getting too near the stage.

It opens with the host Heironymus (Nate Newton) coming out and messing around with his harmonium (that's a musical instrument, OK?) and it seems that it's going to be a standard part of the show for him to pick out an audience member to help with the bellows...but then also hold a towel while he masturbates.  (Don't worry, it's a dildo and fake spooge.  Thank goodness for my experience on the burlesque stage, or I wouldn't have been able to handle it with the calm that I did.)  He sings an intro to the show (all songs composed by the very able Shawn Northrip), and then it enters into the real action of the evening.

"Blood Sweat & Fears III: The Red Velvet Curtain" is similar to their other BS&F shows; it's an evening of three short plays, although this time instead of English translations of French Grand Guignol horror, it's all original playlets (also written by Northrip) with a little entr'acte in between scenes.  (EDIT:  Mr. Northrip politely informed me that I'm giving him too much credit; they are indeed adaptations of old plays.  Ooopsie.  You know, one of these days I really should think about considering possibly writing these things with only two gin and tonics in me rather than three or four.)

The first, "Private Room Number 6," directed by Kevin Finkelstein, is a humdinger, about a corrupt general (Alex Zavistovich) hoping to lure an underage girl (Donnis Collins) to a hotel room for seduction purposes...but she has other ideas in mind, as becomes apparent when she starts asking pointed questions about his role in a torture investigation and a soldier who took the fall and later committed suicide.  There's some brutality...and surprisingly, a bit of raunch at the end.

Second up is "I Want To Go Home," directed by Lucas Maloney, is...I hate to say it...kinda weak.  Not to fault the performances at all.  Anna Brungart and Chris Zito play a frustrated married couple whose sex life is moribund; she stays home and knits while he goes out every night.  Donnis Collins is their sexy uninhibited neighbor who advises the wife on how to spark things up.  It's all good dirty fun, but the final punch is a bit lacking.

However, the entr'acte after that is a great little mime skit (Zito and Collins again) that could make a great burlesque act (I need to behave and not steal ideas, but still...).  And then the final act, "The Person Unknown," is definitely in the Grand Guignol tradition, in which a singer (Brungardt) who once performed at military-recruitment events is confronted by a mutilated returned soldier (James T. Majewski) who wants to collect on a promise she made, to kiss him when he returned.

While there's a part that may be a bit weak, it's still a great whole overall.  There's a running theme of the military; in addition to the arrogant general and the embittered solder, the middle act has references to a sergeant, if I recall correctly, and Zito's character, while not explicitly military, wears clothes echoing military uniform.  So the horrors of our current conflicts are coming home to roost on the theater stage.

Is it flawed?  No doubt, but still very much worth seeing.  There's not a bad performance in the bunch, the spooge and blood flow freely, and the songs are great.  And how long has it been since you've seen someone play the harmonium?  Everyone gives it their all, and all told it's a great entertainment for the Halloween season.

"Blood Sweat & Fears III: The Red Velvet Curtain" is playing 10/15 to 11/13 at 1409 Playbill Cafe, 1409 14th St NW in Washington DC.  Tickets are $20 a pop, and are available at Molotov's website.  Go see it, folks; like anything from Molotov, it's a blast.

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