Monday, July 21, 2008

REVIEW- Traveling Art Circus

Last night the Traveling Art Circus closed "100 Years of Nothingness" a fun three act play to a packed house at the Off Broadway theatre.

The TAC's shows fall somewhere in the range between sketch comedy, 24 hour theatre, and the fully realized play. They've got the wit, satire, pop culture references, archtypical characters and laugh a minute puns and visual gags of great sketch comedy, the random plot twists and hyperactivity of 24 hour theatre, and the length, structure and sometimes even the craft of a complete play. When these elements come together as well as they do in "100 Years of Nothingness" you get a unique and entertaining, if still quite fluffy product.

100 Years of Nothingness follows a fictional bloodline through 3 eras of pop culture icons in the last 100 years. This conceit allows the group to indulge in a wide variety of fanciful and often amazing impressions. The old timey radio programs of the 30s, the huge awards celebrations of the 70s, and a speculative unemployment line of the 2010's (from one great depression to the next) provide settings for everyone from Groucho Marx and Gertrude Stein, to Charlton Heston and Mary Tyler Moore, to Courtney Love and Hillary Clinton, and many more to share the stage in wild mash ups of debauchery, desperation and de-volution.

The history and events portrayed go beyond being merely speculative, they are totally absurd. While charming, this doesn't illuminate much, and gets a bit repetitive. Celebrity always seems to manifest as unchecked libido and abandonned responsibilities. Then mawkish themes are tacked on to these scenes with a heavy hand, and by the end of the night we're expected to see all this random fun cohere into a message that "love and art" can shore us up against all the evils and futility of the world.

But Traveling Art Circus doesn't sell itself as anything other than art for fun's sake, and they do not dissappoint. It's clear the large cast have all had a great time bringing a great time to their audience.

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