Presented by Guerilla Opera
Music and Libretto by Nicholas Vines
Directed by Austin Regan
Sept. 21 – 24, 2016
The Zack Box Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee
8 The Fenway, Boston, MA
Guerilla Opera on Facebook
Performance for review was Sept, 20, 2016, an open dress rehearsal.
Review by Kitty Drexel
Trigger Warning: partial nudity, sexy times, crass language, sock puppet murder
(Boston, MA) Guerilla Opera is making a name for itself as a company that refuses to allow its actors to merely stand and sing. It’s frequently avant garde, often dark, and always giving us something unexpected.
Loose, Wet, Perforated is a multimedia opera ripe with intimate oddity. Imagine Weill’s “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” in a smaller space, smaller cast, and a game show host. The blood red set is womb-like its execution. The lighting is shadowed. The costuming is dystopian in theme and beautiful. I half expected a heart shaped, uncontrollably vibrating bed to come rolling onto the stage. There is no way that whatever happens onstage will end well. It doesn’t.
Loose (Aliana de la Guardia) and Wet (Brian Church) and contestants in amoral trials set to them by Perforated (Douglas Dodson) to attain status in their secret guild. Whomever is the most scandalous, the most connivingly depraved “wins.” Thea Lobo heroically completes the cast as all of the supporting characters (of which there are many).
GO likes to undress its actors onstage. Loose, Wet, Perforated features cast members getting nekkid for our entertainment. As taught by the immortal words of Jermaine Stewart, you don’t have to take your clothes off to have a good time, but the cast in this show does. Loose sings an aria about “climb(ing) the greasy pole” in which she sings about selling herself as she sells out to the reality game show. She strips while maintaining breath support, pitch and the audience’s rapt attention. In an “ordeal of fire,” Wet is reduced to his underpants. He’s vulnerable and pathetic, but his dignity remains. The factual nudity serves as figurative metaphor. It works in performance but will likely rub some viewers the wrong way. Unadulterated human body as god intended still not your thing? You do you by staying home.
The balance between chamber orchestra and vocalists needs tweaking. We can hear the vocalists but we can’t understand them through the instrumental music. It’s like listening to an opera in a language you have proficiency in but not full fluency. To be clear: the vocalists’ diction is fine. It’s the intersection of instruments to voices that requires manipulation.
LWP is a strange but moderately elegant little beastie. It can be overwhelming with its modern staging and its arrangements of organized cacophony. It is also an unexpected laugh riot. Creator Nicholas Vines explains that it is based on medieval morality plays. He’s playing with morality, alright. So much so that his characters are dealing out Trumpian levels of logic convolution to an not entirely innocent audience. It’s a timely production ready to push buttons. Those interested only in classically presented opera will not enjoy themselves.