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Open: 03/16/09- Close: 04/11/09 Rods And Cables
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Mariah MacCarthy
  

It would be downright ungracious to give a bad review of a production that offers free alcohol and donuts. Fortunately, all bribery aside, I have no qualms about giving Allison M. Keating’s Rods and Cables my full recommendation. This energetic, precise, naughty roller coaster of a show could be just what your life has been missing all this time.

Before the show, as a Little Man with a Big Costume (Jason Lindner) shows you to a seat, beer and wine are free for the taking. A woman—known as That Woman (Lucille Duncan)—walks around in a hoop skirt covered in donuts, which she gives you. There are speakers very close to your ear, through which you can hear a quiet woman’s voice, describing That Woman: “You want to eat her, but you don’t eat her. You eat the donuts she offers you.” The voice continues to describe most of the onstage action throughout the rest of the evening—most of which is very, very strange.

The plot is mostly straightforward, but I hesitate to describe too much of it, lest I diminish your experience. I will, however, share a few salient points: I will tell you that That Woman’s vagina is an entry/exit point for a number of things – a steel rod, a string, a naked Sultry Flight Attendant in red high heels (Jessie Paddock). I will tell you that a kiddie tub full of applesauce comes into play, and that two epic self-induced orgasms take place in and around it. I will tell you that, amidst a story full of lust, rape, and violence, there are moments of surprising beauty and stillness: a parachute dress billowing, a genuinely tender embrace, a phone that comes from the sky. I will tell you that there are projection surfaces throughout, and that sometimes the images on them have no apparent relationship to the action onstage. I will tell you that sometimes the narration of the action contradicts the action itself, and I will tell you that this is jarring and delicious. And I will tell you that, while the ending may feel abrupt, it is the only ending possible for this evening.

  

The direction is tighter than a hipster’s jeans, and every performer and designer delivers in spades. Kate Ashton’s lighting, often spooky, is always exactly right for the moment, and Nellie Fleischer’s costumes are just garish enough—particularly the Sultry Flight Attendant’s bright, floofy party dress, which looks almost edible. Of the performers, Jason Lindner stands out as the Little Man with a Big Costume: he is all at once narrator, janitor, and mechanic, and his dedication is unflagging. Lucille Duncan as That Woman is also a force to be reckoned with, though I suppose I’m predisposed to like her because she gave me donuts. My one complaint is with the random video interludes of an entirely separate storyline, involving an unseen narrator’s red-clad wife and his best friend Nevins. This melodramatic subplot, while somewhat entertaining, took away from my time with the characters onstage, and why would I want that? I was having such a good time with them—even the Sexy Clown (Joshua Koehn), who is vulgar and despicable and yet somehow holds boundless power over the women in the play.

Perhaps playwright/director Allison M. Keating intended some deeper relationship between the two storylines, which was lost on me. Any explanation is possible. I’m not going to attempt to infer meaning here—you can try that yourself. Or don’t, and just enjoy the ride. Either way, Rods and Cables is avant garde theater at its best: it will charm you, disgust you, inspire awe in you, cop a feel and kick you out. Get thee to 3-Legged Dog, stat.
 


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Venue:
3LD Art & Technology Ctr. : 80 Greenwich Street