Rotten bite, Alchemist Theatre, Punk is Dead
Don (Liz Mistele) paces the greasy floor of her downtown flop room rambling on crassly, spilling the contents of her tortured soul dragged down with her lifelong impulse to seek attention through music. Maybe a moment of vulnerability let the hard veneer of an consummate disinterested and dispassionate artist crack and leak this type of sappy introspection.
The guitar being her main tool, her f-the-world attitude supplys the battery power for her punk artistry. She strains to stay inspired to find words for her voice, tinged with a soft southern drawl, to fend off the onslaught of train-jumping troads popping up more and more bringing youthful disregard and foreign technology into her scene of rarified Punk.
Stoli (Natasha Mortazavi) patiently listens to Don’s ranting and moaning through brief interruptions from various half-drank booze bottles and consultations with a heart-shaped box. Stoli’s conversation and thoughts come off stereotypically shallow at first impression, matching her curled and pinned up blond hair. Then randomly, with the ease of a natural born poet songwriter, lets her words console and coddle Don’s ego, appetite and libido. After all, Don’s dingy apartment doubles as a love nest for the two of them. Or is it a tomb?
Wishing to come off as innocent as a daisy in a pastoral field, Stoli dolts about her past as a sweet southern girl, daughter of a slick wheeling businessman and a trophy wife. With a second glance something else lingers around her, a grim side seething with a thirst for blood.
Long known now for his mildly-salacious halloween tales drawing their settings from visions of dank NYC nights lifted from the summer of ‘77, Aaron Kopec delivers another cryptic and cleverly written story for the small stage in Punk Is Dead! It’s a wolf cry to our primal and perverted curiosity about New York counterculture of that era. His characters this time make an odd couple of an age weathered degenerate musician and a naive and primrose doll who decided to break her pedestal awaiting her sexual maturity by absconding with said degenerate musician.
On the surface, the story has some typical elements, kitsch punk rock novelties and costume design; some cliche punk stuffing like crappy guitars, pleather, harsh language and drugs. However, within the script Kopec again through his knack for allusion, irony and commentary gives this story needed volume by taking on contemporary issues such as male douchery, American fetishism over youth, same sex relationship stereotypes, and stilted and exploitative midcentury modern marriage arrangements and gender roles, and anything commonly thought to be normal.
This is not a show for people with Victorian sensibilities. Punk Is Dead!, an airy black hearted excursion into the lurid psyche of the American mind that gets a little campy, crude, and self-absorbed made strictly for the entertainment of avid independent theatre maniacs.
Michael Christopher as Chuck, the not so punk sound guy from CBGB. completes the cast of Punk Is Dead!
Production credits go to Brittany Broache (stage manager), Evan Crain (set design), Kara Penrose (Violence and Intimacy Choreography).
Punk Is Dead!’s run comes to a fitting end this weekend with shows remaining Friday, October 26 and 27th at 7:30 at the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View.