The Performant: Manic pixies

|
(4)

'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' and 'The Witch House' roil with fantastickal energies

It was only a matter of time before the familiar genre of the comic book movie migrated to the stage. But don’t expect any muscle-bound jocks in colorful spandex roaming the aisles of A.C.T.’s intimate mid-Market venue, The Costume Shop. Not only is the titular “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” of their current production not a superhero with mutant powers bestowed upon her by a quirk of DNA or gamma rays, but in a twist, the comic book involved actually originates from the play -- not the other way around.

The play centers mainly around a youthfully shiftless, struggling painter Tallman (Joshua Roberts), whose dire straits and afternoon drinking habits lead to a chance encounter with one of cinematic fiction’s most enduring tropes, the Nathan Rabin-dubbed MPDG Lilly (Lyndsy Kail), a woman who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventure.”

It’s a problematic relationship model on so many levels it’s hard to even know where to begin. Lilly is conveniently mute so she never has to share her feelings, or even her last name, but somehow, within an afternoon of their meeting, she’s moved into Tallman’s hovel, from which he is about to be evicted (by his ex-girlfriend’s new lover, smarmy real estate agent Rick [Lucas Hatton] no less). She never expresses a desire for anything beyond colorful scarves and starburst candy, and Tallman, in the middle of a painting frenzy, is so self-absorbed he can’t bring himself to question his “luck.” Even his sympathetic-to-a-point best friend Porter (Michael Barrett Austin) becomes disgusted with his lack of awareness. “Liking the way someone makes you feel is not the same as liking an actual person,” he observes astutely before abandoning Tallman to his fate.

The comic book, or rather, graphic novel, is represented as a series of projections which serve as backdrop and counterpoint to the live action unfolding onstage. Drawn by local actor and graphic artist Rob Dario, the panels form a silent but urgent backdrop to the narrative, adding visual heft to the bare bones set of stools, a humble futon, and primer-splotched countertop/bar. Or rather, presumably they do. Due to technical glitches, many of the images refused to project when cued, and the promise of a wholly symbiotic graphic-novel-play was under-realized the evening I went to see it.

But the images that did make it through, deceptively simple black-and-white line drawings somewhat reminiscent of the art of Brian Wood, gave Tallman’s inner struggles an external medium to be expressed through as his mysterious affair unfolded. Doubtlessly constrained by budget and time considerations, what the company failed to produce (but should have) was a companion comic as takeaway. I could have filed it next to my oft-referenced Transmetropolitan collection.

Meanwhile, up the road a ways at The Garage, Morgan Bassichis’ “The Witch House” involves a whole panoply of characters who are not quite pixies, but certainly manic. A pair of pre-adolescent boys dabbling in witchcraft set off for Salem in order to cast a spell for a third youth, and all three find themselves possessed by the restless spirits of witch trial accusers Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr., and Mary Walcott.

A fairly oblique examination of gender roles and the justice system, what “The Witch House,” does offer is a wealth of intriguing visuals mainly provided by the largish cast of “bees” (also shades of the accused) who writhe and dance across the stage, simulating the emotional storms brewing thereon. Also, the company has designed a series of original “playing cards” to give away, with art by Lis Goldschmidt and a poetic speech penned by Bassichis, a savvy promotional tactic that even PlayGround (who coproduced “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”) can learn from.

Comments

Oh my God, I'm so glad to tell everyone the real thing that happen to me...My name is EMILIANO BABARAH. If i refuse to share this testimony it means i am selfish to my self and to people i love so much whom might have similar problems, March 16th about something 7:23pm after taken our dinner my husband got crazy started calling a lady name Melisa I love you, i was so mad and started crying like a baby...then my husband left home then for the idiot called Melisa, and never return back home then i believed when he understand his self he will surly come back to apology, but instead he left me So i complained to my friend she told me she was having such problems in her marriage until she was introduce to DR ORIOMON who specializes in bringing back broken homes and broken marriages DR ORIOMON cast a spell for me in May 4th surprisingly my husband came home May 6th apologizing that i should forgive him that it will never happen again, i was so glad and gave the thanks to DR ORIOMON who save my marriage, if you are having similar problem you can contact him and His email address is (oriomonspiritualtemple@yahoo.com) you can still save your marriage if u really love your husband.
Thanks EMILIANO BABARAH_USA

Posted by Emiliano Babarah on Jan. 31, 2014 @ 7:52 am

thanks to priest omigodo for helping me get back my lover in just 2days, if you are in any kind of problem please contact priest omigodo for help via email: omigodoshrine@hotmail.co.uk or call his cell phone for fast response on +2348079367204

Posted by best spell caster on Jan. 26, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Hello friends,my name is EMILIO i want to give thanks to the great Dr lala who helped me allot in getting back my love and also helped me in my financial problem.i was in relationship with ANTONIA both of us lived together in love and in happiness, suddenly she just work up one morning telling me that she is sick and tired of me i was so shocked and confused cause i never did anything wrong to her still i had to plead to her because i love her so much, but she still insisted to breakup with me, i tried all i could to get her back but it was not possible, after she left i was some how financially down i did not know what happened to my finance, so i decided to contact some spell casters which happens to be scams, i was frustrated then decided not to contact any spell caster again, one day i was watching a show when i saw a woman named TINA was giving testimony on how this great man named Dr lala helped her in getting back her lover within 24 hours so that was how i decided to give a try and i contacted Dr lala and told him about how she left me and my finance,the only thing he said was that i my lover will come back to me and my finance will come up again, that he is going to do all within 24 hours, so just decided to watch and see. in the next 24 hours which he said i got a call from her and she was pleading to me that she is very sorry for what she did to me, the most surprising thing was that the job i applied for in a company for almost 4 months, they just called and told me that i should come and start the work that am capable of doing the job, i was so surprised a tears of joy rolled down from my eyes,i was very very happy and she just came to my house and she started pleading to me, so i accepted her apology and now we are living happily together now, and am working in the company now am happy again. all thanks to Dr lala for helping me and for making my dream to come through. for help and for appreciation you can contact Dr lala through his email, lalapumena@gmail.com or cel phone +2348158270343

Posted by My Name is Mrs thirteenths on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 9:13 am

I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another woman. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help.And i saw a testimony of a spell caster who help a girl called michelle and i said let me give it a try so i contact him for help and he cast a love spell for me which i use in getting my love back and now i am a happy woman.For what you have done for me,i will not stop to share your goodness to people out there for the good work you are doing.I hope God blesses you as much as you have help me to get my Love back,visit him on oriomonspiritualtemple@yahoo.com is the only answer to your problemS
EMILIANO BABARAH_USA

Posted by Emiliano Babarah on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

Also from this author

  • Bee true

    The documentaries of Berlin and Beyond

  • Divining the entrails

    New Last Gasp releases explore the unsettling art of Laurie Lipton and Elizabeth McGrath

  • The Performant: Epochalypse Now