Midnight Brainwash Revival

Kirk Wood Bromley's apocalyptic play has all the complexity and word play of a postmodern Shakespeare


Tickets are $15-20


Gurdjieff Hall, 312 Connecticut (at 18th Street), S.F.

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In his director's note, FoolsFury's artistic director, Ben Yalom, compares 35-year-old New York playwright Kirk Wood Bromley to Shakespeare -- a postmodern Shakespeare, that is. Bromley's three-hour verse comedy, originally written for (and performed at) the turn of the millennium and subsequently reworked for FoolsFury, centers on a family in Moab, Utah, whose patriarch has gone missing. The heir, Kyrin (Nick Hoffa), at the behest of his opportunistic girlfriend, Gemma (Mary Knoll), is ready to sell the land to the evil developer (and robot) Mordecon (a more amusing than sinister Stephen Jacob). Kyrin's slighted sister, Serena (Cat Thompson, who brings a detailed depth to this potentially bland character), holds out hope that her father is alive. But in true Shakespearean fashion, the play adds several more subplots and characters to this depraved desert -- false messiahs, cultists, truckers, and even a narratorlike Coyote (a sly, cool Eric Rhys Miller in a standout performance). Also like Shakespeare, Bromley is word drunk: Plot takes a back seat to poetry, and the dense language barrages the audience like grunge music. At times, Bromley's scenes are witty and brilliant, but at other times they're pointless -- and there's nothing worse than bad poetry ("When my tadpole days were irradiated by your underside," Mordecon says in a speech to woo Serena). While Bromley's subplots may not always be intellectually rewarding, this irreverent and apocalyptic play is one of the most original I've seen in a while. Yalom's direction serves it well, as he incorporates movement (a FoolsFury staple) effortlessly into parts of the text. Adam Savage's projected images of the desert, caves, and even urinals serve as the set, and these special effects fuse the play's biblical themes of the Second Coming with the technologically minded 21st century. Emily Hastings' colorful, wacky costumes and an original guitar and cello score by Chip Sommer and Claire Monty (who also perform live) round out the well-designed production.

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