Oh, For the Love of Love!
by Christopher Durang, Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco
February 17 - 28, 2008
Directed by Tina Brock
Stages Manager/Lights and Sound
*Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
**Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
The IRC is a non-profit 501C3 corporation.
Playing time is 75 minutes; there will be no intermission.
Feel free to visit the bar and accommodations,
located in the lobby, throughout the show.
Duke Ellington and Friends
Burton, Corea, Metheny, Haynes, Holland
Concord Music Group
The Pink Panther: Henry Mancini and His Orchestra
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If this is your first Idiopathic Ridiculopathy experience, we’re a newly-formed company whose mission is to present and preserve the classic and lesser-known works by authors from the loosely-defined “Theater of the Absurd” such as Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Edward Albee; to provide artistic opportunities to actors, directors and designers interested in exploring their craft through this material, and to expose modern theater-going audiences to absurdism and to develop new audiences for this work. We have a particular fondness for works that incorporate physical comedy, clowning, vaudeville, and music hall elements.
When a small group of us began the IRC two years ago, we wondered if enough people would support a theater company devoted specifically to this genre. We’re very excited by your response to these works. Our non-profit (501C3) status was granted as of December 2007, making it possible for us to now apply for funding from government and private sources. That, combined with public enthusiasm and support, are making it possible for the IRC to make the leap to the next level in the company’s growth. So, thanks and continue to pass the word to those you think would enjoy knowing about the work we’re doing.
To keep in touch with our progress and what we’re planning, visit the IRC’s website at www.idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.com. We update the site frequently with images from the shows, thoughts on what we’re planning and our general goings on. It’s a great way to keep in touch with us throughout the year.
Oh, for the Love of Love! (2008)
"Too seldom are one-act plays performed, and we don't see many absurdist plays, either — and absurdist one-acts, those all but unheard of. Charging to the rescue: the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (I love that name!) with Oh, for the Love of Love!"
Mark Cofta, Philadelphia City Paper
"For laughter with a little sting, this is the show for you."
R. B. Strauss, Philadelphia City Paper
The stage directions in Frenzy for Two, Or More read: ‘Rubble goes on falling from the ceiling. At the end of the play there will be no ceiling left at all. And no walls either. In their place, one will be able to see staircase-like shapes, silhouettes, banners perhaps.’ Or my favorite, ‘They block the window with the mattress and stop up the doors, while through the ruined walls of the room you can see figures and brass bands passing.’
That’s brass band(s), plural.
When I read Frenzy for Two for the first time, (as is always the case with Ionesco) I laughed out loud…at his sense of play, at his wonderful theatrical imagination, and at my chances of finding both a venue and the budget to make the collapsing ceiling and walls, not to mention the brass band(s) happen.
Not to be discouraged by a hefty challenge given our miniscule budget, we set out to create the world Eugène Ionesco calls for in Frenzy. However, since one of the challenges I also enjoy is following the author’s stage specifications as truly as possible, we found ourselves in a bind, inventing all sorts of creative solutions to his staging puzzles while maintaining the spirit we imagine he was going for. Particularly when we hit page 155, where ‘headless bodies and bodiless dolls heads can be seen slowly descending, hanging down from above.’
We then thought to remove the ceiling tiles over the L’Etage stage and rig a fishing line contraption connected to a fishing reel in the sound booth that would enable us to creep headless Barbie and Ken dolls into the stage picture. That idea was not only impractical but also short-lived, as L’Etage hosts a different show each night of the week. We then experimented with a heckler in the audience throwing doll heads and ‘assorted missiles’ on stage, but that was also scrapped in deference to safety issues and questions about author intent – if the missiles are hurled from humans as opposed to crashing through and descending from on high, does that alter Ionesco’s ideas, and if so, how?
As Brian Adoff’s character, He, ponders in Frenzy, “One wonders whether the answer depends on the question or the question depends on the answer.”
Enjoy the show, and thanks for coming out.
Monday, February 18th, 2008
The Philadelphia City Paper
Love Conquers: Critics Love For the Love of Love
by Mark Cofta
Too seldom are one-act plays performed, and we don't see many absurdist plays, either — and absurdist one-acts, those all but unheard of. Charging to the rescue: the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (I love that name!) with Oh, for the Love of Love!
Absurdist theater — and absurdity in general — resists easy definition, so these three plays about failed romance may not be a likely or logical match, but they add up to an experience greater than the sum of its parts in artistic director Tina Brock's delightfully clever production. If you don't know her, she's easy to recognize: She's the one person who can say "Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium" without stuttering.
First comes Christopher Durang's "Wanda's Visit," in which happily married middle-aged dimwit Jim (Bob Schmidt) invites high school sweetheart Wanda for a visit. Played hilariously by Gerre Garrett, Wanda is a human train wreck: loud in every way (her brain-piercing screech nearly drowning out her neon pink stockings), she's desperately needy, and gloms onto Jim as her latest male savior. The true genius performance in "Wanda's Visit," however, comes from Corinna Burns as Jim's long-suffering wife. As her growing frustration strains her efforts to cheerfully support him, the play's emotional action comes alive on her face, building with excruciating torture to her inevitable explosion (with a wickedly funny Durang twist).
Burns continues her insightful portrayal of domestic disaster in Eugene Ionesco's "Frenzy for Two, or More," which pairs her with Brian Adoff as lovers arguing about anything and everything (snails and tortoises are the same animal, she insists) as a battle rages outside. What will destroy them, their never-ending squabbling or the bullets and bombs on the street?
Sandwiched between these two comedies, but not overlooked, is Samuel Beckett's meditative "Ohio Impromptu," performed by twins Michael and Tomas Dura, two sides of one personality coping with lost love in a suitably eerie performance.
Brock stages all three plays inventively on the L'Etage cabaret's small stage, with the audience hunkered close on benches and stools. The bar's nearby, and indulgence lubricates this zany experience. From all three plays, one might conclude that the love of love leads to heartbreak — and that what alleviates love's misery is the chance to laugh at ourselves.
Oh, For the Love of Love! Through February 28, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, L'Etage, 624 S. Sixth St., 215-285-0472
February 28th, 2008
The University City News
Three's The (Absurd ) Charm
by R.B. Strauss
Some folks have said that the relevance of “Theater of the Absurd” has come and gone, with even “Waiting for Godot” a relic best put to bed. I say hogwash! True, Naturalism has made a strong comeback of late, but I blame that on too many folks wandering out of the academic gristmill clutching their Playwriting M.F.A. just a bit too tight. I say more madness! Thankfully, The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium agrees.
And as the full house on opening night proved, so does an audience, all of whom, myself included, had a rollicking good time experiencing “Oh, For the Love of Love!” This was the I.R.C.’s latest effort, and featured two one act plays plus a vignette that deal with amour in its many forms, with the total package directed with flair to spare by Tina Brock, the company’s Artistic Director.
Ever consider what might have been when it comes to old love? Just what became of that high school sweetheart and more pressing, what does she look like 20 years after graduation? “Wanda’s Visit,” by Christopher Durang attempts to answer these questions in sidesplitting fashion.
It comes as no surprise to Jim (Bob Schmidt) that old flame Wanda (Gerre Garrett) has seen better days. Much better days. In fact, when she arrives at his house, Jim doesn’t even recognize her. Of course he doesn’t, because she had plastic surgery to change her appearance. Seems she crossed her lover, that mysterious crime boss, Kingpin. So, it seems that rekindling love takes a backseat to an ulterior motive. Yet when she sees Jim, the years melt away, leaving Wanda an amorous pest who bugs Jim’s wife Marsha (Corinna Burns) to just this side of catatonia.
Beyond the absurd, Samuel Beckett’s best plays are also pitch-black comedies. However, his late work is not black comedy but bleak comedy. No, just make that bleak. “Ohio Impromptu” is as bleak as it gets. This short vignette features two identical figures (identical Twins Michael and Tomas Dura) in shaggy gray wigs. They sit cattycorner at a table. One has a book before him from which he reads a text but is stopped short when the other person lightly pounds his fist on the table. The reader begins again, though with subtle differences.
Is what is read actual, no matter that it is grounded in memory? Does the repetition act as a time warp, thereby trapping the two figures in a circular hellish existence? And where does love play its part in such an empty realm?
The evening ended with a return to laughter, albeit most strange, as is always the case with Eugene Ionesco. “Frenzy for Two or More” is a deliciously obscure effort by the one writer who more than any other is Alfred Jarry’s successor. Indeed, this hits one of Ionesco’s major themes in how language, definition and meaning are fluid. Yet how this conclusion is arrived at is by a decidedly cracked logic that updates Jarry’s Pataphysics.
Here, She (Corinna Burns) argues that snails and tortoises are the same creature, which aggravates her lover, He (Brian Adoff) no end. Their bickering takes other twists and turns, with a good portion focusing on woulda/shoulda/coulda, with the best line Adoff’s: “If I had technique I could have been a technician” or something like that. Of course, other thematic concerns are addressed as well with just as much bizarre humor.
For laughter with a little sting, this is the show for you.
This show is playing through Thursday, February 28 at L’Etage above Beau Monde Creperie, 6th and Bainbridge Streets (The door is on Bainbridge) in Philly. For tickets and further info, please log onto www.idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.com.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Philadelphia Inquirer
by Toby Zinman
Three little-known plays from theater of the absurd
Here's another absurd labor of love by the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, a theater company devoted to lesser-known works of the theater of the absurd, a dated subspecies of drama. Tina Brock, the artistic director and driving force behind this niche group has rounded up the usual suspects - Beckett, Durang and Ionesco - only to prove that sometimes little-known works are little known for good reason, despite the casts' solid performances.
Three short plays make up the 75-minute program. The best is the serious one, Ohio Impromptu, Samuel Beckett's stark meditation on loss and grief. Two white-haired men, dressed in black, sit at a white table on which rests a black hat and a book, from which one man reads the story of the other's lost love. It was inspired to cast twins (Michael and Tomas Dura) in the roles, more than satisfying Beckett's direction "as alike in appearance as possible."
But, like most late Beckett, Ohio Impromptu depends on sharp visual and aural contrasts, which are compromised here by the uncontrolled lighting and the cancan red velvet curtain of L'Etage Cabaret.
Both Wanda's Visit by Christopher Durang and Frenzy for Two, or More by Eugene Ionesco are intended to be funny, although comedy seems to have left these plays behind years ago. Ionesco's sensibility is always WWII European, and the absurdity of hiding indoors from a violent war while bickering over nonsense is more irritating than hilarious. Corinna Burns and Brian Adoff do a good job with the difficult material, but how many lines like "When I was small I was a child" or "If I'd learned a technique, I'd be a technician" can a person bear?
Durang's overlong farce is about another bickering married couple, bored and bogged down by routine. When Wanda (the excellent Gerre Garrett), the husband's high school sweetheart, arrives as a pushy houseguest, recounting endless tales of sex and violence, the uptight wife reaches the end of her rope while the easily flattered husband falls for Wanda's every trick. Burns plays - well - another annoying, illogical wife, as does Bob Schmidt her dolt of a husband.
Although as theater history the company's mission is admirable, the trio of plays doesn't make for an entirely satisfying evening of theater, leaving us staring at the truth in the Ionesco husband's line: "If I'd never seen you, we'd never have met."