Friday, January 11, 2008
Last night I saw one of the best off-off Broadway productions I've ever seen. Adapting the life and novel of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, The Flying Machine theatre company and the prodigiously skilled and talented actor Richard Crawford, with writer/adaptor Jason Lindner and director Joshua Carlebach, have created a night of riveting, hilarious, disturbing, and unforgettable theatre. We saw Journey to the End of the Night in previews, go, go buy your tickets now.
Crawford plays Céline, the scabrously funny and misanthropic author and his bumbling and opportunistic younger alter-ego Bardamu from his eponymous novel. He also manages to morph his expressive features into an entire cast of characters with the flick of a hat brim or a squint of revulsion. The black box setting perfectly encases his claustrophobic world, his "salon." He hunches over a desk, riffles through old drafts and publications, and we meet an author whose ground-breaking nihilism, satire, and profanity is not what he wishes to be remembered for. Instead, the joke is on him, in one hysterically funny scene he offers up the worst bourgeois recipe for respectability, a ballet of cavorting Greek gods tainted by his lascivious trivializing. It is the rude, crude, outraged, anti-semitic, and dreadfully honest man himself that heats up the night.
The theatre, even some of the seats, sported artifacts from the 40s. Being previews, the seats were also filled with the creative team. I hope they heard me laugh, groan, and clap till my hands hurt.
I love what can happen in black box theatre. This just couldn't happen in the Winter Garden or Marriott.
Photo by Piotr Redlinski