Feb 26, 2007

Back to Rockville

I don't know what to call The Curse of the Mystic Renaldo The (not a typo), which I saw at 3LD last weekend. Silent-film alt-cabaret? Vaudeville rock? Rockville?

I can roughly describe it as a multimedia work on a rickety, Escher-esque stage that begins as a sort of riff on silent movies and ends as a music gig by the band Psycho the Clown. Between those points stretches a desultory, often digressive, but always fascinating grab bag of vaudeville lazzi, meta-theatrical "mistakes" (with the house crew making "unscripted" appearances), multisurface projections, and straight-up tunes in a slick, prickly-guitared Latin rock vein. Headlining is the thin-moustachioed, Chris Walken-esque Aldo Perez, whose most memorable line, parodying glib singer/songwriters, is probably, "I wrote this song last summer, and I hope you do too," and whose most memorable stage moment may be his playing a wood flute with his nose while wearing a severe dental lip retractor (see above). His cohorts include Richard Ginocchio, with a bottomless deadpan as a bongo-playing valet, and Jenny Lee Mitchell, as a brittle, quizzical windup maid with a sharp, lovely voice.

Is it theater? I don't know. I do suspect that if it dropped about 20 minutes, and/or were a tad more artfully shaped (the director is Victor Weinstock, and--buried the lede here--the Renaldo character was reportedly co-created with Will Eno), this often-inspired hybrid of the oddball, the offhand, and the sinister would pack enough punch that I wouldn't care what it should be called--I'd just urge you to go. As it is, it may be a few flickers short of a reel, but it is uncanny, promising, and well worth the candle.

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