Dark Dizayz

Written by Kevin Kaine

Directed by Alexandre Correia and Brian Snapp

Presented by Feed the Heard Theatre Company and Timothy Haskell, till September 21

The Trilogy Theatre, 34 West 44th Street, (212) 501-2282

Review by Arlene McKanic

If a work of art is going to be sick and twisted, it must have a kernel of brilliance within it to be credible. Dark Dizayz, now at the Trilogy Theater, certainly has, though you have to listen for it.

The evening begins with "Lone Drifter," written and performed by Kevin Maher. Like the play, his "one man sketch show," riffed on the absurd and creepy, from a PE instructor leading the audience in shouting out the proper names for private parts to musings about the top five songs to listen to while snorting cocaine (Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believing" is #1). At one point Maher whipped on a curly wig and turned into a quasi-Shakespearean "mother of all rollercoasters," then had an encounter with a handpuppet that looked like a cross between Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent and H.R. Pufnstuf. Maher’s act was giggle inducing and softened the audience up for what was to come. What was to come was an eye opener.

Dark Dizayz’ plot seems to concern a bashful vampire (Kaine) who meets a prostitute, played wonderfully by the slinky and sad eyed Anne Winkles, in a tawdry motel room. Whatever they think they’re going to do -- the man seems afraid of sex and his fear seems to grow in proportion to the prostitute’s aggressiveness -- is interrupted first by her pimp, P, (Jamie Benge) then by the Father of All Pimps, (Mike Weiss) then by the prostitute’s husband (Jermaine Chambers,) and finally by the son of P and the prostitute, also played by Weiss. The boy may be an alien. The nuggets of brilliance in this madness were the performances and Kaine’s sensational writing, which include long stretches of absurdist rap (is that a redundancy?) mostly delivered by Benge, who stomped about in sweatsuits, dressing gown, wrap around sunglasses and huge jewelry like Eminem’s bloated older brother. Weiss’ Father had a spooky, zonked-out charm, and he was simply freaky as the Saran wrapped alien boy. Chambers’ husband careered between Biblical rage and whimpering subservience to his wife while Kaine’s vampire watched the proceedings with the bewildered terror of a teenaged boy whose date has gone unspeakably wrong. Directors Correia and Snapp managed to keep the chaos from becoming incomprehensible, helped by Snapp’s vertiginous lighting design, which ranged from intense cross fades to a blue and green wash that recalled the way the glow of a neon sign might fall into a motel room over a porno palace. Eva Hageman’s costumes were appropriately loony, and Snapp’s set was minimalist sleaze: a rickety bed, a couple of chairs, a floor lamp. A canvas covered upstage flat provided a screen for videos and clips put together by Nick Siopis and Mitch & Stiles. Some of those clips, presented at the play’s beginning, were the most gruesome scenes from the most gruesome movies ever made -- was it really necessary to include the chestburster scene from Alien? But the play’s last scene, a stunning video snippet featuring the vampire and his old girlfriend, was a perfect depiction of the pain/pleasure, sex/death principle. Dark Dizayz was a fascinating, skin crawling work.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 1

Performance: 2

Set: 1

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2

Copyright 2002 Arlene McKanic