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Monday, October 1, 2007

Thing 66: The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Woolly Mammoth has a lot to say with a lot of laughs. The Unmentionables by Bruce Norris explores issues of racism, colonialism, globalization, exploitation, development and international aid, evangelical Christianity, corruption, stereotypes and torture. Doesn't that all sound hilarious?

But the thing is, it is all hilarious. This show kept the Boyfriend and I -- and the whole audience -- laughing the whole way through with its quick writing and excellent acting.

You may recall that I toured Woolly Mammoth a couple weeks back as part of the Arts on Foot Festival, at which time the Artistic Director of the company praised very highly their current show, and since he would have absolutely no reason to exaggerate, I bought two tickets that very day. Lucky for all of us, he hadn't been exaggerating, the show really was great with humor and charm and some very serious issues at its core. (The tour also allowed me to regale the Boyfriend with trivia about the theater and the company, which I'm sure he enjoyed.)

The show began with a monologue by one of the characters. Speaking directly to the audience, the young African man tells all of us to get out now, while we still can. "Why you no go home and watch the TV?" he asks us in his staccato accent. "This show is no good. Go home!" And when no one moves, he tells us "Too late now!" as the lights go down.

Well from his perspective the play progresses very poorly indeed. Without giving too much away, bad things happen to the poor guy. But for the rest of us, this show is wonderful and witty, moving quickly between laughter and outrage. I was glad I stuck around.

The Boyfriend has two degrees in theater, and is a pretty serious snob about such things. He enjoyed it, though did make the point that it lasted a bit too long and I agree. It could have ended about 20 minutes earlier and still gotten the point across while avoiding the heavy hand at the end. The acting was marvelous, especially the witty wisdom of the African doctor, and the fast talking American woman who takes it as a terrible affront when her husband mentions that maybe, just maybe, she talks too much sometimes.

Unfortunately, that was the last weekend of the show and the main stage has moved on to a show called Current Nobody, a modern, gender-flipped remake of the Odyssey. If it is of the same caliber as The Unmentionables it will make you think, it will make you laugh, and it will make you glad you didn't stay at home watching TV.


adrienne said...

Lady! You should totally go see the play Well at Arena Stage. It's so GOOD! Get tickets now while you can... It ends its run Oct. 14! I loved it!

dc365 said...

You know what? I've never been to Arena Stage! Are you reading this Boyfriend?? Ahem.