Friday, March 25, 2011

#serials@TheFlea Week 3 Preview: Dionysian Governors and Unisex Office Bathrooms

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Dionysus enjoying his complimentary beer at #serials@TheFlea.
  • Dionysus enjoying his complimentary beer at #serials@TheFlea.
Welcome back to The L's exclusive coverage of #serials@TheFlea, ahead of the third and final week of the production's second cycle. (Details on a third cycle will come soon.) As far as this coverage goes, we'll be posting our traditional recap after the show then, following that, a piece considering the way the short nature of the episodic plays and production schedule (from script to stage in a week!) impacts the creative process. I did some actual reporting for that one, viewing a Rump of Folly rehearsal the company was kind enough to allow me to attend, so look out for it. Finally, we'll have an in-depth Q&A with #serials co-producers Stephen Stout and Dominic Spillane that'll consider the whole evolution of this project from day one. (Though I'm of the personal belief that #serials is a project of intelligent design.)

Here's what to expect from the final week, show-wise. Returning shows include Restoration comedy homage Rump of Folly, in its second week, the sixth episode of momentum favorite The Connectors and episode four of UnFuck Yourself Rhys Bauer!, who we last left absolutely covered in cocaine like some kind of narcotic funnel cake.

As usual there will be two new shows debuting. These are:

The Loo, by Chad Beckim.
The press material describes this as a "surrealist piece that takes place in an office's unisex bathroom riffing on corporate culture and business speak."

Stray thoughts
- Based on that little bit of information, this sounds like a melding of the two shows that got booted off last week, borrowing O'Hare's abstract consideration of modern office life and Too Soon's musings on corporate identities. Perhaps the two have mutated to become a stronger, more resilient serial piece?

- I've never worked in an office with a unisex bathroom, but noting how the lines for women's rooms are always so much longer than for men's rooms I once proposed that instead of gender-based lavatories we should have ones divided by facilities, with one room for urinals and the other with stalls. I thought this would alleviate some of the pressure (at this stage, who knows if my puns are intended), but all my female friends were horrified by the idea. "Women do not want to share restrooms with pooping men!" I was told. So maybe not.

Bacchus, by Eric John Meyer.
In a modern retelling of Euripides' The Bacchae, Dionysus appears in Salt Lake City to bring down the state's governor (Utah's chief executive is described in the promotional material as both conservative and right-wing; given the state, this seems triply redundant), who "attacks open sexuality as unwholesome while secretly maintaining a habit of weird sex with hookers."

Stray thoughts
- The show pledges to explore "our complex relationship with sex, drunkenness, debauchery and the Dionysus myth itself." I'm not going to even pretend I have a relationship with the myth (or The Bacchae), so for the other undereducated (all from Wikipedia, obviously): The Bacchae is a Greek tragedy from around the year 405 BC concerning King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave and how Dionysus punishes them for refusing to worship him. Dionysus is the God of winemaking, "ritual madness and ecstasy" (again with the redundancies!); he's also described as "man-womanish" and as "the god that comes," two phrases I'm deliberately keeping out of context for my own amusement. Since The Bacchae and the mythology surrounding Dionysus are too complex to condense here, I suggest you do some basic research before the show to help you get orientated. I know I will be.

- Speaking of which, it'll be interesting to see how the show presents the myth, since I have to assume I'm not the only audience member (buzzed on free beer, let's not forget) who will be in unfamiliar territory. I'm also assuming that the story will be broken down into chapters, the first chapter being episode one. I can't imagine telling a Greek myth in 10 minutes (though I guess this is the only show where it wouldn't be cheating to bring in a deus ex machina).

- The prospect of a corrupt politician getting some kind of divine comeuppance is certainly intriguing. I wonder whether the show will mention Gary Herbert (Utah's actual current governor) by name or substitute a fictitious governor in his stead. An accusation that an actual politician has "weird sex with hookers" probably isn't slander if it's satirical, but it will be ballsy. Of course last week Too Soon used the actual death of a real-life person as a starting point, but while that promised things would ride the edge of bad taste and failed to deliver, this seems a wee bit more potent. (Though weird sex with hookers seems to be one of our few remaining bi-partisan activities.)

- I love modern re-tellings of classic stories. East of Eden is one of my favorite books, and I just read and enjoyed The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, aka Hamlet With Dogs. This has me intrigued.

Look out for my new album, "Narcotic Funnel Cake," available at record stores everywhere.

Performances for the third and final week of the second cycle of #serials@TheFlea take place tonight (Friday) at midnight and Saturday at 11pm and 1am (reservations can be made for the final performance, the others are first-come first-serve).

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