Maher tantalizes with swirling bits about the nature of creativity, grief, the endless universe, the physical world, the theater. Even Emily Dickinson gets a shoutout. This very short play - no more than 40 minutes - is both crystal and opaque. Images can be concrete and hard, then shattered by hazy contemplation and high-flying concepts. It's certainly unique, a thinking man's vaudeville. You won't soon forget it.
Maher is using one particular artistic challenge, that enigmatic Chekhovian sound cue, to explore the futility of all artistic endeavor - perhaps, even any endeavor. Despite the preposterousness of the construct, Quasimodo appears dead serious throughout, and even the initially glib Beethoven evinces increasing perplexity and frustration. Add the periodic bursts of poetic language and "The Hunchback Variations" somehow acquires rueful resonance, even amid the resolute absurdity of it all.
Thanks to playwright Mickle Maher’s terrifically funny for even non-geniuses script, whip cracking tight direction by Greg Dean and two outstandingly funny yet thought-provoking performances, this is a theatrical experience worthy of wide attention.
The dark fantastic: Catastrophic Theatre almost always has something intriguingly offbeat up its sleeve - especially when artistic director Jason Nodler gets it into his head to introduce Houston to an exciting playwright he's discovered. This time, the emerging dramatist is Mark Schultz. Nodler will direct Catastrophic's world premiere of Schultz's "The Blackest Shore, which centers on a troubled 16-year-old obsessed with making a graphically violent movie, and the relationship with his father, who has dark corners of his own. As when he introduced Houston to Mickle Maher by presenting two of his plays in one season, Nodler will present a second Schultz play, "Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy," later this year.
Stuart is a high school student who has decided to make a movie, with graphic violence, extreme sex and the walking dead. It's "a kind of vampire overlord thing," says actor Josh Morrison who plays Craig, the latest love interest of Stuart's mom and the man who's about to move into Stuart's home and disrupt his life even further. In Catastrophic Theatre's world premiere of The Blackest Shore by playwright Mark Schultz
Catastrophic Theatre will introduce Houston audiences to up-and-coming playwright Mark Schultz with two of his works during the 2015 season.
The world premiere of "The Blackest Shore" will open the five-show season Feb. 13-March 7. "Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy" will close it, Nov. 20-Dec. 12.
Catastrophic will return to the distinctive work of Maher, with the Houston premiere of the Chicago playwright's "The Hunchback Variations," April 10-May 2
Returning to one of the foremost playwrights of the avant-garde, Catastrophic will revive Maria Irene Fornes' "The Danube," Sept. 25-Oct. 17.
Rounding out the series will be the annual summer musical starring and co-created by Tamarie Cooper, one of the most original talents in Houston performing arts. "The University of Tamarie" will play July 17-Aug. 29.
American life is in free fall, at least according to award-winning playwright, Lisa D’Amour in Detroit, running at Catastrophic Theatre through Oct. 18. D’Amour’s romp through middle class suburbia backyard life has garnered rave reviews in this excellent production. Catastrophic veteran actor and playwright Troy Schulze directs with a cast including such noted local actors as Sara Jo Dunstan, George Parker, Jeff Miller, Misha Hutchings and Jim Tommaney. A revolving set by Kevin Holden adds yet another reason to see this production.
The Obie-winning "Detroit" is as much about the endangered middle class, the fading dream of a secure, satisfying suburban paradise, as it is about the two couples. But D'Amour's quirky characters and their recognizably human foibles are interesting in their own right.
The foursome experiences its share of bonding, surprises, personal setbacks and sudden hostilities in all directions. Deciding to return to nature, the two wives set out on a camping expedition, while Kenny convinces Ben their best response is a boys' night out at a strip club. When things don't work out as planned, all regroup in Ben and Mary's backyard and fall into a sort of impromptu primal revel that serves as the play's climax
Lisa D'Amour’s play examines critical questions and themes that as are addressed in today’s society such as what does being neighbors mean anymore, our quest to return to nature, discussion of the middle class and that is just to name a few of the topics. This play was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize award and this year won the Obie Award for Best New American Play. Director Troy Schulze brings together an exciting, compelling cast to bring this touching, poignant play to life.
At the end of Lisa D'Amour's provocative, spiky, prize-winning Detroit, suburban middle class couple Mary and Ben (Mischa Hutchings and Ben Miller) face their own apocalypse. All they have left among the burned out ruins of their American Dream is each other. It's not a rosy picture.