2 Seattle shows offer different takes on people's nastier sides
Reviews of two shows on Seattle stages in June: "Riddled," by Marya Sea Kaminski, at Hugo House; and "Entertaining Mr. Sloane," by Joe Orton, at Theater Schmeater.
Seattle Times theater critic
Exploring the scarier, nastier recesses of the human psyche in the theater can be revelatory. Or it can be, literally, a dead end. And so two local fringe offerings steeped in black humor illustrate.
In "Riddled," a monologue set to rock music and staged atmospherically by Braden Abraham, actor-writer Marya Sea Kaminski comes on hot and heavy as a young woman obsessed with the "glamour" of murder, firearms and notorious gun moll Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame).
Through no fault of her own, Kaminski's ultimately self-indulgent plunge into homegrown American violence debuted while Seattle is still shellshocked by the murders of five people at the hands of gunman Ian Stawicki.
So it is disturbing when an actor hands you a real rifle for a moment, on the way into Richard Hugo House's theater (turned into a gritty music club for the show). And more so when you're not sure of the point of that exercise.
Nor is it easy to be amused or moved by Kaminski's impersonation of a singing vamp who, in reaction to an abusive father and violence-prone culture, has styled herself as a snarky, bloodlusting, B-movie bad girl.
Kaminski pours her impressive acting skills (and less impressive singing, with the band Landlord's Daughter) into her sexed-up character.
But the self-consciously poetic script doesn't reach beyond where you expect it go — into homicidal and suicidal mayhem, under the gaze of a silent male figure (played by Paul Budraitis) who might, just maybe, be Daddy.
Surely the intent here is not to romanticize violence. But in times like these, it's best to go beyond image to insight when dramatizing it.
You'll get a more irreverent but perspicacious look into the social dynamics of violence in Joe Orton's 1964 farce, "Entertaining Mr. Sloane," which closes a Theater Schmeater run this weekend.
There's free-floating lust and casual cruelty aplenty in the Pinter-esque domestic arrangements among a cocky young stranger, his perversely seductive landlady and her enigmatic brother.
The inky humor here spikes out of a shrewd critique of sham middle-class British propriety and moral smugness. And the bursts of physical cruelty are all the more shocking because they are so off-handed.
J.D. Lloyd's staging projects much of this, as does a cast that includes Lisa Viertel as the smothering landlady from hell.
Fridays-Saturdays through June 23 at Richard Hugo House, Seattle (206-322-7030 or www.richardhugohouse.org).
"Entertaining Mr. Sloane"
Ends Saturday at Theater Schmeater, Seattle (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).