Theater Spotlight: Idigaragua/Massgraves

IDIGARAGUA/MASSGRAVES (in repertory)
Lamb Lays with Lion; at Bedlam Theatre through April 13
612.341.1038

Emma Freeman

Lamb Lays with Lion offers up a twin bill of two one-hour shows that bear little relation to each other, other than each incorporating music and a rather bleak outlook on this existence of ours. Massgraves rather underutilizes hip-hop duo Kill the Vultures, losing its way amid a story that drifts through Egyptian mythology, Nosferatu, and predatory mortgage lending. Director Jeremy Catterton collaborates with rapper Alexei Moon Casselle on this odd duck, and while there's a sense of big connections taking place somewhere, in general its focus gets lost amid too much padding and aimless banter masquerading as offhand profundity. We're first treated to the information that what we're about to see is a "cancerous wasteland of dark," then watch as Nosferatu (Elliot Eustis, in nicely ghastly makeup) is unmoved to awaken by the chanting of his acolytes (he comes to when he becomes a celebrity, noted for his inactivity). Soon the cast is chanting the intricacies of no-interest mortgages (and looking about as comfortable doing it as I was listening to it), and Casselle is stuck in a chair glowering for long stretches that cry out for the infusion of tunes. The ending is a spooky, gloomy chorus, genuinely chilling, but the work is still lacking. If we've sowed our own custom apocalypse, as Massgraves seems to suggest, it omits the giddy abandonment that should accompany doom, and the erotic release annihilation offers by way of consolation. Idigaragua, on the other hand, is a sprawling and at times astonishing odyssey. It first opened in September, and this version bursts with polish and precision rather than any hint of exhaustion through repetition. Catterton based this adaptation on Fort Wilson Riot's concept album of the same name, an indie-prog contraption of exhilarating ambition. The story concerns an American journalist (Garrett Fitzgerald, lanky and full of appropriate wonderment) in a picaresque that includes being accosted by pirates, raising and losing a family, building a civilization that sows its own destruction, and meeting his end over a drink. FWR are crackling, Catterton's staging is almost absurd in its imagination and daring, and the weirdness is stacked all the way up to your third eye.

 
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