-- Carol Lloyd

Anity. Written and directed by Peter Carlaftes. Starring Kathi Georges, Brett Reid Parker, and Dawn Walters. At the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theater, 96 Lafayette (at Howard), through June 7. Call 552-3034.

Peter Carlaftes is crazy. That's the short way to explain his unusual show at the tiny Marilyn Monroe Theater; and as long as his looniness is understood from the start, nothing in the long explanation will seem too weird.

Anity starts in pitch blackness. An annoying voice starts to ask probing questions ("Number 3: What's wrong with where you live?"), and while the lights rise you make out two people -- Mary and Joseph -- being interrogated by a man in a flesh-colored butt mask. He's Master Petty, a real estate agent. Mary and Joseph need a place to stay, since Mary is bursting with child, but Petty is a con artist; he tries to rip them off until two figures in multicolored clown silks burst in, wearing silver prongs on their foreheads. Ultra Cratic and Arch Cratic, biblical superheroes, whisk the parents of Christ away from the fiend! Not much else is clear, because the lines follow one another obliquely, like a jumble of pickup sticks. One manic exchange ends like this:

Joseph: ... And the truth?
Petty: Some don't ...
Arch Cratic: What truth?
Petty: ... some do.

Mary: The truth (Everyone falls silent. She indicates her belly) ... is our creation.

It's all as strange and pretentious as it sounds. Carlaftes -- the writer and director -- plays God, in a long, fringed robe, a gold-lame shirt, and a wig of gray hair. Between acts he sits on a furred throne and gazes through a window carved to look like the sun, delivering long, rhymed monologues that not even the author Himself can utter in a natural voice. The second of these speeches explains the name of the show: Anity was once a planet, where a doctrine of "re-creation" apparently existed before all the other "anities" on our planet (Christi-, urb-, hum-, v-, s-, etc.) came about; it was even God's favored planet until it was thrown off course and burned in the sun. I didn't catch who was responsible (God tends to mumble), but that part of His speech goes, " 'Stop, fool!' I cried. He said/ 'God, what means more?/ Saving your Earth or some/ Now-defunct orb?' "

The story leads up to the birth and cosmic trial of Christ, and along the way it's a tangle of bad poetry, crackpot theology, acting that amounts to strange posturing with funny voices, and interludes on audiotape that the audience has to listen to for minutes on end in the dark. There's almost nothing traditionally good about the show, but Carlaftes has been doing this kind of thing (with Kathi Georges) for five years at the Marilyn, like a ferociously inventive but self-absorbed kid in his own playhouse. His inventions are unlike anything else I've seen in local theaters, but they're interesting only if you accept that the man is one letter short of sanity.

-- Michael Scott Moore

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