My heart belongs to Dada

Pure Thoughts and Dirty Loving

Written and directed by Lissa Moira and Richard West
Theatre for the New City
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Elias Stimac

If you like your surreal with a fringe on top, then Pure Thoughts and Dirty Loving is the show for you. As avant-garde as anything seen in New York City these days, the bill of three one-acts swirls together Kafka, punk rock, Dada, Duchamp, and Bogart to create a thoroughly trippy performance piece.

First up was Metamorphosex, a reverse (and often perverse) retelling of Franz Kafka's masterpiece about a man who turns into a cockroach. In this version (or perversion), playwright-director Lissa Moira humorously imagines that the central character remains the same and that all the roaches invading his Alphabet City pad become human. Not only that, but the magical transformation is the result of punk rock (an original song appropriately entitled "Change Motherfuckers"). Moira makes a few statements about the destructive nature of man, nicely summed up when one of the insecti-guys screams, "He's got a shoe!"

Rob Eigenbrod was the personification of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll as the methed man who encounters the overgrown creatures, played with wriggly relish by Eric Jones, Joshua Koehn, Faust Checho, Lisa Joy Rafferty, and Adrienne Wheeler. The fact that the short play just ends without any resolution indicated that many rules would be broken during the evening.

Daffodils for Duchamp is a thankfully brief encounter between an artist (creator and performer Richard West) and his model, who literally steps off the canvas to confront him. The artist ponders illusion and desire in an incomprehensible tone. The segment also featured a guest artist -- at this performance, a violinist named Susan Mitchell, who skillfully played a haunting tune. An interesting conceit, but what does it all mean?

Who Murdered Love? was the centerpiece of the evening, a hard-boiled mystery set in the age of Dadaism, co-written by Moira and West. When a femme fatale named Honie Potts (Krie Allen) recruits a tough-talking flatfoot named Sam Speed (Koehn) to find out who killed her precious "Dada," they take a hazy, high-minded, and oftentimes hilarious journey to a dreamland via a dose of the exotic drug absinthe. There they interact with a host of eccentric characters, played with energetic wit by Checho, Eigenbrod, Fabio Anzolin, Marleah Martin, Jones, and Masha Sapron. Playwright Moira even got into the action as the detective's "Gail Friday." The piece could be considerably tightened, but one thing that could be added is more of Koehn's sidesplitting adlibs, which help him solve the case and stole the show.

On the technical front, Marc Marcante kept the set stark and accessible, utilizing painted artistic backdrops by Mary Blanchard, which helped set the various scenes. The intriguing lighting was by Jon D. Anreadakis, clever costumes by Leonid Gourevitch, and collage/poster designs by Moira. Mariana Beckerman keeps things moving with her choreographic contributions.

 Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac