By Paul Lazar
I promise (maybe) that this is my last missive about the Radiohole show Myth or Meth but I feel that a lot of the comments about it are selling it short ’cause they are mainly talking about how grotesque the show is. YES it is grotesque and yes the grotesqueness is essential and important because it keeps the piece from ever lapsing into the unacceptable zone of being acceptable. (And the grotesque stuff is so artfully executed.)
BUT. How about the way the performers make that text fucking sail for an hour and a half straight with no lapses? To me the text, written by Tom Murrin, sits in this unique place between Richard Foreman and Robert Ludlum. Weird, poetical, political, philosophical and also deliciously idiotic low-end camp. Straight actors would suck dick at saying those words, as would many non-traditional performers, because because because it requires that you be just that specific bunch of balls-to-wall people for it to fly.
HOW about bingo and beer with the audience before the thing “starts”? Whenever somebody gets BINGO that’s when the onstage action “starts.” That’s deceptively simple but it created the best atmosphere to receive all that transpired thereafter. No easy trick.
HOW about the set and props. ALL that Whiteness. What a perfect canvas for an evening of shit, puke, piss and jizz. One could wax dramaturgical about staining the ALL WHITE world. I won’t but to say I loved all the whiteness, even the glare of white light.
How about the L.E.D. lights and the two stupid “theatre” doors and yes we’ve seen Radiohole and others run the sound from onstage for a long time but to see Scott Gillette dripping with shit hit a button on the sound box and then sing a song….how about that?
How about the costumes? Jim Findlay’s delicate, diaphanous flowing fabric over his leather jock, that’s a pretty exquisite clash.
THE WHOLE PIECE IS AN EXQUISITE CLASH BECAUSE THERE’S A HEAVY DOSE OF FUCK YOU ANGER BLENDED WITH AN EQUALLY HEAVY DOSE OF GENEROUS FESTIVE LIFE AFFIRMING GIVING OF AS MUCH AS A LIVE PERFORMER CAN GIVE.
And how about the one single prop that says it all, the “ERS Law Book by John Collins and Susie Sokol”? That lone object describes the whole difference between this moment in Downtown (for lack of a better term) Theater and Tom Murrin’s Downtown Theater. For better and/or worse it is now possible for Downtown work (as opposed to Downtown artists: Bogosian, Anderson et al) to MAKE IT in the mainstream. In fact, actual members of the Supreme Court are supposedly attending performances of ERS’s Arguendo in D.C. right now.
Tom Murrin’s work and its ilk would only be seen by the Supreme Court if the Justices were deciding whether or not to ban it. I am NOT making a judgment about this being a good or bad change in the world of Downtown Theater. It’s just SOOOOO different. Maybe it’s a change for the better that a non-traditional aesthetic can wend its way into the cultural mainstream.
All I’m saying, as a person who is in the “making it” mode so often myself, is that Myth or Meth is like one of those Zen stories where one Monk gets too caught up in bullshit so another Monk does him the favor of whacking him in the head with a fat stick.
About the Author
PAUL LAZAR is a founding member and co-artistic director, along with Annie-B Parson, of Big Dance Theater. Paul has performed in the work of Richard Maxwell, Young Jean Lee, No Theatre and The Wooster Group. He has acted in over 30 feature films and currently teaches at New York University.