maxomai: dog (dog)
I saw The Zoas: I Have Seen The Future! Wednesday night at The Secret Society. Basically, it's Welcome to Night Vale meets The Muppet Show, wherein we see the guts of a variety show on a network run by an evil, mad god. I was very impressed with what I saw, which isn't to say that it was all great. Which brings us to "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."

The good is twofold. First, this production showcases the substantial talents of the cast quite handsomely. Portland theater doesn't do this often enough. Matthew Feranda, Caitlin Nolan and Jennie Spada particularly shined. The second is that the writing is energetic, often weird, and very, very funny. The Night Vale influence is obvious, but The Zoas tones down Night Vale's occasionally cloying political correctness. The show timed in at three hours, and it was well worth the investment of my time.

The bad is that this is a very complicated production --- particularly considering that Wednesday night's performance was supposed to be just a reading --- and the quality of the end product suffers for it. There were technical issues and rather obvious missed queues along the way. A lot of this is attributable to the intention to have a multi-media extravaganza for an end product. IMO if they re-wrote it as a radio show rather than a television show, they could remove a lot of the complexity without hurting the premise or the quality of the remaining writing. The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society and Welcome to Night Vale both know how to pull that off.

The ugly The Zoas promises the next episode will come in May. That's a very ambitious timeline to carry out a very ambitious project, and I'm concerned that we'll see the same issues in the next episode as in the last. If I were them, I'd give it six months, not four.

There's also the more fundamental matter that this story line shows every indication of falling into the same trap as most weird tales these days, most of all Welcome To Night Vale, which the master of the weird tale, H. P. Lovecraft, described thusly:

We have millions who lack the intellectual independence, courage, and flexibility to get an artistic thrill out of a bizarre situation, and who enter sympathetically into a story only when it ignores the colour and vividness of actual human emotions and conventionally presents a simple plot based on artificial, ethically sugar-coated values and leading to a flat denouement which shall vindicate every current platitude and leave no mystery unexplained by the shallow comprehension of the most mediocre reader. (Source)


I congratulate the entire cast on putting on a hell of a good show despite the difficulty, and I wish them the best of luck next time.
maxomai: dog (dog)
I just got home from Badass Theater Company's reading of Deirdre O'Connor's play Jailbait. Last year Badass staged Invasion!, which I enjoyed immensely and which received solid reviews (3) (4), and besides, a dear friend of mine was in the cast, so I was looking forward to this reading. I wasn't disappointed.

Jailbait is about the night two 15-year-old girls sneak out to a 21+ club to hook up with two overage --- two way overage --- men. Obviously, this means dealing with sex and coming of age in very uncomfortable ways. But Jailbait goes beyond that, to a discussion of loss, coping with loss, peer pressure, honesty with others, honesty with oneself, and what it means to be in a relationship as both a teenager and as an adult. Jailbait is like Invasion! in that both use a relatively simple foil to explore a lot of complex subjects.

I thought Jailbait was an intense performance with a lot of potential, but that as a staged reading it lost a lot of impact. With a full-on production, Jailbait could be a very powerful play indeed. Badass Theater Company should pull it off with style if Invasion! is any guide. The one piece of advice I would offer to Badass Theater Company is not to try resetting the play in Portland. Last year they tried to set Invasion! in Portland, and I think that fell flat, detracting from the impact of that play. They can avoid that with Jailbait by keeping that play set in Boston.

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