Theater Review: Michael R. Jackson’s ‘Teeth’

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I’ve never been any good at horror, even its campier forms. i caught a clip the silence of the Lambs Decades ago and never had the courage to watch the entire movie. In sixth grade, Sweeney Todd Kept me awake for weeks. and a [cough] A perfectly reasonable number of years ago, I made this into a 40-minute film called teeth Before I have to…extricate myself. So, even though my big girl ego told me I’d be fine, there was still some trepidation in my id that I told Anna K. Jacobs (book and music) and Michael R. Took their seats to new music written by Jackson. (The book and song) is based on a 2007 film that I was never able to finish. Then, the house lights went black, the banner emblazoned with the show’s name on the stage – covered in blood – began fluttering to the ground, and it took all of 30 seconds for my nerves to turn into excitement. Under the claws-out direction of Sarah Benson, teeth Feels like the musical equivalent of spike-covered driving mad Max Car in the desert while being chased by the Boys of War on the way to Valhalla. this is a rush -And it’s also an in-depth examination of the actual repression of Christofascist ideology in America.

terror of teeth Works on two levels: There are terrifying events – which are enjoyable because they’re imaginary – and then there are thoughts, which are infinitely scarier because they’re nothing. We’re in New Testament Village, a Christian community indirectly located somewhere in Central America, and our heroine, Dawn O’Keefe (the phenomenal Alice Allen Lewis), is shaken, because His See, as the leader of the “Promise Keeper Girls” puts it, one of their number has “let the enemy corrupt their minds.” As the extremely charismatic leader of Don’s congregation, known only as the Pastor, no one could be better than Steven Pasquale – square-jawed, wild-eyed, and unafraid to look brilliantly at the scenery, he is in the element as he plays into a handheld mic, “Lady? Where is your fig leaf? Woman? Where is your shame?!?Don’s group, “PKG”, is a group of high-school girls who, in the words of the pastor, have committed themselves “exclusively”. very nice The message of women empowerment through sexual purity.” They wear rings and walk the walk, and now they’re all burning in the fire of divine judgment aimed at their former sister, the sorely absent Amy Sue Pearson. Why? “Because,” screams Promise Keeper girl Trisha (the wonderful Jenna Rose Husley), “Amy Sue got herself pregnant!” It’s perfectly phrased. Later we are told that Mary was “conceived with child by God the Father.”

As the priest rained down hellfire and PKG trembled in fearful ecstasy – while the boys in the congregation sat at attention in various states of agony – laugh after laugh came from my matinee audience. Even from me – Jacobs and Jackson’s book is instantly and consistently funny. Later, Dawn and her love interest Toby (Jason Gotye) share a duet called “Modest Is Hottest,” which is as excellent a piece of comedic songwriting as I’ve heard in many a menstrual cycle. Still, I couldn’t help wondering whether the height of our glee was generated by the New York crowd’s sense of ironic distance. This is not an unreasonable reaction and it may be inevitable, but the point is: teeth Not really sarcasm. Before it gets even more nightmarish, it’s realism with terrifyingly explosive songs.

While Don and PKG launched into “Precious Gift,” an upbeat song about the all-important task of preserving virginity, I found myself remembering another show on the same stage at Playwrights Horizons. Will Arbery is shady and brilliant heroes of the fourth turn At first glance it might not seem like it bears much resemblance to a bloody, nasty musical, but teeth It has a spiritual brother and sister. Both plays are journeys into specifically American darkness, and they come from places of painful personal wisdom. Jackson – whose Pulitzer-winner a strange loop The shame also runs deep – the show’s presenter writes about his own Baptist upbringing and talks about understanding what it’s like to be “afraid of your body and feel like… you’re going to hell.” “Going in.” real heartbeat and strength of teeth That is, even as its red flower turns into a monstrous fruit, it still maintains its driving supertask. This is actually a show not about vagina dentata but about the cancerous cycles of self-loathing, misogyny and violence that lie at the heart of purity culture.

Well, it’s also about vagina dentata. Dawn is led on a painful discovery of what lies hidden in her lady parts. Despite her best efforts, she and Toby – and, indeed, all the children under the vicar’s tutelage – are extremely promiscuous. Don’s desire to scare and disgust him (you don’t have to grow up evangelical to feel pain during his heart-wrenching song of self-sacrifice, “The Shame in My Body”), while, For her half-brother, Brad (Will Connolly, wonderful if terrible), desire and shame have long since turned to hatred. Brad is the pastor’s son, Dawn is his stepdaughter, and both mothers are out of the picture – Brad ran away, Dawn died. “She’s jealous,” the pastor tells Don, “because even though you are not my biological child and she is, we both could not be more bound than the blood of the lamb.” While Don and Toby struggle against their raging hormones, Brad descends into the dark web. Behind the VR mask, he finds his own spiritual leader, a men’s life coach named Godfather (voiced by Pascale) who blames “male pain”. feminismAnd calls its premium subscribers “Truthseekers”. Then again, is it ironic if, with just a few clicks, all this can be proven to be disgustingly true to life?

Brad’s male pain is typical, and linked specifically to Don: The first joint of his finger is missing, because when they were kids – he sings, his face white, his eyes shining – “She bit me. took / it Bite me.” Only Brad suspects what Don will soon learn, when he and Toby finally succumb to their lust for each other one night at a lake. The important thing is that Toby has proposed and Don Loves him. She feels safe until he stops listening to her, until he stops hurting her, and snaps something inside her. Now props designer Matt Carlin has to really The fun is about to begin. From here on out, if you don’t want to see a bunch of bloody mutilated pussies, close your eyes. Because once Don’s second set of teeth takes his first hit, The show named for them jumps into metaphorical vengeance mode.

First, it’s a terrifying explosion: surreal flames burst from Adam Rigg’s seemingly simple set, which contains a whole basket of Easter eggs; Pasquale gets to play another wild role as a gynecologist whose smart showstopper (“Girls Like You”) feels like a hat-tip. stallThe cowardly dentist while also reaching his fantastic levels of cringe; The closeted gay guy in the congregation, Don’s friend Ryan (I saw Sean Doherty make the move for Jared Loftin and knock it out of the park), gets a pretty nasty betrayal arc; And PKG – every one of them a powerhouse – stepping brilliantly into their ever-expanding role as the Greek Chorus, shape-shifting from leather-clad devils to grieving widows to wailing Bacchae.

However, there is a But coming. as grand as teethGuignol feels about as spread out as it gets. Growth is a difficult task – this is why snl Sketches are rarely completely successful; Writers know how to create, but not how to finish. teeth – which is great in many ways – currently suffers from the same problem. As Dawn moves toward the righteous master of her vulvar weapon, terrified by her body, a real young woman’s story of empowerment and her deep suffering becomes obscured beneath the splatter of apocalypse. Separately delving into dark Wikipedia, both Ryan and Brad find an entry on an ancient goddess named Dentata. Ryan sings, “She’s at the center of men’s fear of impotence,” to which Brad adds, whipping his online truthseeker friends into a frenzy, “Soon she’ll make an army for herself and one by one / They’ll kill. Will put it.” I don’t want to spoil the details teethbut you can probably guess that it’s a book-style affair of Revelations, which ends up devolving into gruesomeness and mass destruction just like Tetsuo did. akira, Ultimately, in a gesture that feels a little too tired to be worthy of the bulk of Jacobs and Jackson’s writing, Devi turns her greedy, merciless gaze upon the audience. We are – oh, that word is never as effective as we’d like – trapped,

It’s too bad, because we’re also, in the show’s final moments, further away from its true heartache than ever before. What about Don? What happens to girls who are raised to hate themselves, who blame themselves for the downfall of man, who blame themselves when they are raped? What happens – not just in extreme horror but in the world we all have to live in every day – when so much internalized violence spreads? “The moon turns red and the lines blur,” Dawn sings, “and inside my mind I’m reborn as her.” He In my mind Important, but that’s not how Jacobs, Jackson and Benson play it. blow up the top of teeth — by driving just as hard into literal Armageddon — the show’s creators get to wreak some fun dramatic havoc, but they also sacrifice a good portion of their story’s humanity. And there is an additional sense of disturbing ambiguity in the bloody cleansing: masculine and feminine violence are not being exactly equated, but they are no longer being precisely separated in form and cause. Although it is tempting to be big and shameless, teeth As soon as it crosses its limits, something is lost. But what it is is still, in many moments, lava-hot and canine-sharp. Beneath the fire and blood, the legendary battles and severed penises – inside the promise ring and the cheap paneled walls of a church recreation room – is the real horror show.

teeth On until April 14 at Playwrights Horizons.

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