In the Media

Thom Pain (based on nothing) a Searing Lesson in How Life Is Messy and Wonderful and Sucks From Time to Time

Eno exalts in capital letters and quotation marks. Raw and unfiltered, Pain is the life force, or as close as we're going to get. Sure, life sucks, but, as Eno (mesmerizing), Parker (spectacular) and director Jason Nodler (precise) encapsulate, the alternative is so much worse and nowhere near as frightfully sardonic. God help us...somebody help us...anybody?

Elusive sound is more than mere noise in 'Hunchback'

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.

The Hunchback Variations: An Absurdist Comedy With Fascinating Oddness

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.

Chronicle critics offer entertainment suggestions

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. 

Catastrophic Theatre's The Blackest Shore: Finding a Voice

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 gives playwrights star treatment

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. 

The A+C Top Ten: October

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.

Droll 'Detroit' a worthy dark comedy

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