Saturday, June 22, 2013

Brides of the Moon, Weird Sisters Theatre Collective at the Red Barn, June 20 - 29, 2013

Brides of the Moon Weird Sisters Theatre Collective Austin TX

austin live theatre review

by Brian Paul Scipione

Farce in Space
Describing the new work by Austin’s all-female theatre group the Weird Sisters Collective is like recounting a good Saturday night party at work on Monday morning. While at the party the most inane things take on catastrophic significance, in a dull office space they come off as decidedly dotty. Your cell mates behind their respective desks might smile, nod and chuckle, but try as you might, the terms hamburgoo, sergonic drift and consensual monkey sex will be pretty much lost on them.

Also like a party the renditions of what happened that night are as varied as the priorities and moods of the guests. Sci-fi geeks will want to talk about the futuristic landscape of Brides of the Moon and the intricacies of space travel gone awry. Slyly commenting on an all too likely future, the Weird Sisters have distilled the predominant elements of our society into their most ugly and extreme manifestations. Earth has been dominated by a corporation and renamed IASSWAA, Inc. (the politically correct, Disney-ish ‘It’s A Small World After All’). GMO food products have evolved (more properly, de-evolved) into food-like substances like meat paste (hamburgoo) synthesized out of genetically engineered cattle-derived animals called hamburganimals. Slaving away at the factory from 9 to 5 is still the order of the day but the products used to take the edge of have become even more effective and to the point: sedative-laced sodas, Sed-A-Colas, to relax you or methamphetamine spiked pops like Dr. Upper to pick you up. TV shows like Blameshifters and Crumblestix numb the mind and keep people passively couch-bound. And if this is all not enough, the government may conveniently re-program you with futuristic self-help manuals on tape.

Perhaps personal relationships and human drama are more your bag. Then you might come away from BotM talking about the quiet sadness of sacrificing old friendships for career growth or the confused relations between daughters and mothers. The Brides themselves are sent to the Moons of Pygo to ‘comfort’ the male astronauts stationed there. While on the inter-galactic airwaves they may present themselves with smiles and batting eyelashes, when the cameras are turned off the harsh reality of their situation is openly lamented. The mission may make them get married but it won’t make them fall in love. 

 The monkey, Dai Dai, sums this up best in her own video diaries. “We have fun playing,” she signs “but we are just friends.” The monkey signs the word love many times but in the Shakespearean fashion gives the word a different meaning every time. 

The story begins when Earth-bound factory worker Carmen admits that her mother is a strong, intelligent and powerful woman but sadly didn’t realize it until it was far too late. Another very poignant moment can be read in the tear-filled eyes of the husband who catches a glimpse of the woman he loved years ago when she is able to break temporarily out of the spell of madness the government has imposed on her.

Brides of the Moon Weird Sisters Austin Tx

Or perhaps you just go to parties for a laugh, in which case you would still have plenty of material to regale your co-workers with on Monday morning. They were trapped in a space-time warp dominated by 1970’s radio hits by Bad Company, you might say. Then there was the moment when the astronauts' SDIS (sex drive implants) went awry and they all had sex under, next to and on top of the spaceship's dashboard: legs and cleavage were everywhere. Did I mention the space ballet during the moments of zero gravity? Oh yes, they had a cigarette brand called Bitch which provided tons of tongue in cheek jokes. A cheerleader, a butch Russian and a French debutante walked into the room and they all worked for a company called CokTek (with the missing c pronounced). And then they found a RV with old TV dinners. Oh, and did I mention the cleavage?

Whatever you're seeking at a party, or in this case a dramatic production, you'll will find it in this madcap parody. The play was written by five people and is bursting with gibes and witticisms from a wide range of viewpoints, but in the end you realize that its the story of a woman reclaiming her life’s purpose thanks to a chance encounter with a broken microwave. (No, really!) 

Chris Humphrey accomplishes with stellar aplomb one of the greatest challenges to actors of any age: channeling madness. Part King Lear and part Betty Crocker, she begins the play on the periphery, having been pushed aside by the greedy male-dominated government. Addicted to Bitch cigarettes, meat paste, and Dr. Uppers, she wants what many housewives want: a happy family. She is so far gone that it seems she will never realize that to obtain the respect she deserves, she must re-capture her own true self. 

This metaphor about the role of woman in the evolution of society is the central thesis of this piece. It might be easily missed in the near-constant zany antics of this voyage through space and time.

With only seven performances in a remote space in north Austin, The Red Barn at 6701 Burnet (click for map) , this play may pass you by like fiery comet blazing through the sky. Those of us too tired from a day filled with mindless work and mind-altering carbonated beverages to get up and watch that meteor shower at 4 a.m. will indeed miss out. Just keep in mind, even if you missed it, the world, the galaxy, and those you love but don’t take the time truly to get to know, will go on without you.

Brides of the Moon runs from June 20 to June 29. Tickets can be discovered at
brown paper tickets

and more information can be explored at Catch it if you can…

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