Monday, August 18, 2008

Tales from the Fringe [Festival]: Big Thick Rod

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 11:00 AM

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The L's Mary Block is going to a bunch of shows at the Fringe Festival, the sorta-legendary annual Off-off-off-off-off theater extravaganza, and writing about them for the blog, which I think is awful nice of her. First up:

A woman, in the suburbs, a regular woman, if she wants her husband to buy a washer and dryer set, I'm sure she'd have to go to bed with him, to give him something he wants to get what she wants. So, in the long run, it all ends up the same way.
--Venus Xtravaganza, Paris is Burning

If relationships are filthy, cat-clawed squabbles for power (and they are), it makes sense to define your terms early and get them in writing. The archetypal players in Big Thick Rod's wrangling game of Risk learn this quickly, and if they don't, they end up on tour with the circus as a freaky three-armed sideshow act. Extreme terms, true, but demonstrative of the compromised position endemic to being in love.

Cricket (triumphant show-carrier Tatiana Gomberg), a nymph in the classical sense (read: horny as hell), is removed from her oak tree home by her ladder-climbing litigator husband (Arthur Aulisi), who can't/won't satisfy her voracious appetite for flesh. In desperation, she hires gardener Jerome (Daniel Ajl Kitrosser) to fill in the gaps, and when he falters she takes beefy lumberjack Rod (Matt W. Cody) under her employ. Her growing stable of sex-for-hire gives her a taste for entrepreneurship, but a homegrown brothel can't sit well with hubby or the partners at his firm (not to mention the maelstrom inherent when commerce and emotion collide).

The uniformly strong cast weaves its way through the complicated, hour-long script without ever losing its audience. Aulisi is a gifted comedian with forceful delivery who is indulgently loathesome as creaky mysogynist Elmer. Kitrosser, an up-and-comer in the New York comedy scene (and, full disclosure, afriend!) imbues sad sack Jerome with both tender pathos and stage-conquering physicality. Emily Hartford convincingly delivers an intergender overlord with a thing for leather (which is not easy), and Cody is perfectly cast as brawny, brainless Rod. Big Thick Rod, the Rabbit Hole Ensemble's Fringe offering and directed by award-winner Edward Elefterion, unabashedly and insightfully assesses the cost of love and freedom: how much of one is worth the other.

Big Thick Rod
Venue #10: The New School for Drama Theater, 151 Bank St
Remaining Performances: 8/20 @ 9:30, 8/22 @9:30

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