Produced by Catastrophic Theatre, A Very Tamarie Christmas is local goddess Tamarie Cooper’s 17th flirtation with musical as drug-induced memoir, a thing that begins with a thought, maybe with a question, and then romps joyously downhill from that point forward.
Tamarie Cooper’s Old As Hell does not disappoint. Anyone who has ever felt like a victim of their age will relate to its message and learn an invaluable lesson about coming to terms with your position in life no matter how old you are.
It’s appropriate that Houston’s Catastrophic Theatre is serving up Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as its debut in its new venue, the former home of DiverseWorks, where Catastrophic had staged several shows in the past. Most of the works they’ve produced and/or created over two decades owe a huge debt to Beckett and, more than any other of his works, to Godot. There’s a strong feeling of coming home about the company’s realignment with its single most profound reason for being.
Of course, if you haven’t seen any show lately that’s profound, dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, then you haven’t been to anything produced by Catastrophic. It’s what this company does, and it has been since it rose from the ashes of Infernal Bridegroom Productions, Houston’s long-iconic house of weird and wonderful pain. As so many local theater companies grow tamer, discovering as though for the first time that lighthearted, brain-dead entertainment fills seats, Catastrophic seems to fill enough seats with the absolute opposite.
Dinner parties with old high school friends are rarely a good idea. Add an animal sacrifice into the mix, and well, things get frisky ... Nodler directs with a back-away-from-the-mayhem approach, letting the play’s absurd moments have a glory all of their own ... Leave it to Nodler to find tenderness in the most extraordinary ridiculousness ... At Catastrophic Theatre it takes just a lamp chop to bring down Western Civilization. As it should be. Trust me, this is full-frontal fun.
Nodler’s direction holds true to Shawn’s brand of deviant realism, letting the silky prose push forward into the intimate spaces, without neglecting the base humor. It’s a difficult play made oddly beautiful, even serene and tender in parts. Nodler mines the material’s breathing spaces, keeping it authentic, and always human. Dean’s set is impressive and monumental for DiverseWorks, while Kirk Markley’s lighting design adds to the seductive ambiance. With Our Late Night, Catastrophic lives up to its tag line, “We will destroy you,” with yet another winning night of theater.
It’s not really summer in Houston without a freshly cooked-up musical from Cooper. This year the Catastrophic Theatre has teamed with Stages Repertory Theatre to present The Tamarie Cooper Show, Journey to the Center of My Brain (in 3D!), which is bound to get you out of any and all summer funks...Cooper has assembled a cast of the usual suspects along with some unsuspecting newcomers. Each has their own brand of zaniness, a total necessity to survive a Cooper extravaganza...All in all, a summer blues chaser if I have ever seen one.