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"Hysterics" 

Two solo pieces -- about twisted Southerners and a 15-year-old madwoman -- may be this fall's sleeper hit

Wednesday, Nov 6 2002
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If Dan Carbone is our local Billy Bob Thornton, then Up From the Ground (his half of an event called "Hysterics") is his Sling Blade -- a twisted show about Southerners, written and performed by Carbone himself. His hilarious caricatures of a farmer, his wife, and their son and neighbors are like nothing else currently onstage in this city; they seem to come from another world, like the flower that grows in the field behind their farm. ("It don't seem like nothin' Jesus would leave," growls the farmer.) Up From the Ground premiered at the 1998 Fringe Fest, and Kaliyuga Arts is giving it a new production here in an evening of two solo pieces. The other show is also about crazy people -- Jill Dowse's X: The Rise & Fall of an Asylum Star, starring Jennifer Taggart. Taggart plays the 15-year-old Augustine, who was known as Mademoiselle X when she lived in the infamous 19th-century Parisian asylum Salpetrière. If you think you've seen this show already, you're probably wrong: Last summer's Augustine (Big Hysteria) was a different script. The young Augustine's career as a sort of madwoman exhibit for the Parisian elite -- Dr. Charcot showed her seizures off to artists, writers, and intellectuals -- comes into focus here as a metaphor for several things, including acting itself. Taggart is playful, delicate, crisp, and enthralling; she turns Dowse's script into a cool and elegant nightmare. "Hysterics" may be the sleeper hit of this crowded fall, proof of life in little rooms for those who look beyond La Bohème.

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