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Subterranean Shakespeare/Climate Theater co-production of John O'Keefe's 1985 play

Wednesday, Nov 29 2000
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This Subterranean Shakespeare/Climate Theater co-production of John O'Keefe's 1985 play has moved to the city after a stint in the East Bay. It's in a great SOMA space, the Omni Circus Theater, really a multiuse garage/studio in which paintings and industrial sculptures surround you. The show runs under an hour with an avant-garde weirdness that gives it a Fringe-y feel, especially given the somewhat combative theatricality. Sara (Chetana Karel) is a catatonic patient in a mental hospital. (At first, you might think the play is a disease-destroyed-consciousness piece along the lines of Arthur Kopit's Wings. You'd be wrong.) Her mother, Nora (director Geoffrey Pond, eerie and hallucinogenic), abused her and then committed suicide. Her father, Jessie (John Antonopolous), a sailor, abandoned her. Now's she's under the care of the sexpot nurse Sharon Tape (Marcie Prohofsky) and the strange, gay psychologists Drs. Frank Lucy (Stanley Spenger) and Nick Sieze (Antonopolous again). Dr. Frank discovers that Sara's blood has special properties -- when injected it can revert consciousness to a "pre-industrial state," giving criminals and other antisocials a second chance to grow up right. But Sara's blood causes a "parasitic psychosis"; soon everyone's in the same catatonic state. Basically, it's a '60s Happening, an anti-technology freakout, and although it's pretty ridiculous, the cast commits with amusing energy, and Karel is very good. Her convincing screams and blank stare almost persuade you that the play is meaningful. But when Prohofsky hilariously bellows "Do you see where the Boogie Man is?" over and over, you realize it's merely fun.

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Joe Mader

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