Maybe the real cryptids were the trauma bonds we made along the way: “The Interrobangers”

(L-R) Jenine Florence Jacinto, Anderson Stinson III, Jay Connolly, Schanaya Barrows (Photo by Erin Crowley)

Presented by Company One Theatre in partnership with the Boston Public Library and The Theater Offensive
Written by M. Sloth Levine
Directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden
Dramaturgy by Regine Vital

January 26 – February 24, 2024
Rabb Hall
Boston Public Library, Central Branch
Boston, MA 02116

FREE with Pay-What-You-Want tickets

Content Warning: substance use, swearing, references to child abuse, abduction, and trauma. 

Production has sequences with flashing lights.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“An interrobang [in-TER-eh-bang] is a nonstandard double punctuation mark that combines the functions and glyphs of an exclamation mark (!) and a question mark (?) into one form: ‽. It indicates a sentence that is both a question and an exclamation, expressing surprise or disbelief.”

“What Is an Interrobang?! Definition and Examples” by Kelly Konya: Last updated on January 3, 2024. 

BOSTON, Mass. — The Interrobangers is a queer play for the queer community. It does not adhere to the traditional European, three-act play format. Traditional narratives don’t include us, so they don’t apply to us. 

Welcome, allies. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

Deep in the dark woods of Foggy Bluffs, a monster lurks between the trees. Except the monster is actually an f-bomb-dropping businessman (Alex Jacobs) taking advantage of dropped property values. He would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those g-damn meddling kids (Anderson Stinson III, Jay Connolly, Jenine Florence Jacinto, Schanaya Barrows)! 

Except those meddling kids aren’t being parented and the creepers in the forest aren’t all greedy men in costumes. Some of the heavy shadows are real monsters. It’s all fun, games, and vigilante gumshoeing until a kid disappears… For two weeks.

Six years later, the mystery-solving heroes are reunited in high school. They’ve grown apart but must come together to solve another local mystery. They must discover if it’s aliens, monsters, teenage hormones, or the Fed creating a stir in Foggy Bluffs. Chris Everett and Michael J. Blunt round out the ensemble in roles that prove adults are just tall children with more experience.

Instead of unfurling the plot slowly via a reliable dramatic form, playwright Levine unleashes the play’s themes directly. They, with director Glenn-Kayden and the designers, introduce a recognizable Scooby-Doo parody, create inter-character tension, establish location, and queer code the Interrobangers brat pack in the first fifteen minutes. 

The play’s heroes have a rigorous gay agenda that they must complete before the show is over. There’s no time to waste pandering to a heteronormative academic standard. 

According to Merriam-Webster, cryptids are animals claimed to exist but never proven to exist – like a unicorn or sasquatch. (My favorite cryptid is the selkie. I too want to shun mankind by donning an otter’s skin and swimming freely in the ocean’s depths with my sisters in chaos.) 

Levine utilizes cryptids’ chimerical natures as a metaphor for trans/queer identity. LGBTQIA+ kids aren’t given the same grace to find themselves that is given to cis hetero kids making mistakes and discoveries. 

We all have pieces of ourselves that don’t fit, parts of our personalities and minds that require configuring and contemplation. The Interrobangers takes the perspective of queer and trans discovery and invites cis heteros a safer glimpse into its potential wonders.

The play is a mirror held up to society. It is not subtle. It shows us that even in our progression-desiring, western society trans and queer people are damned if they do; damned if they mind their own business in public. Society sniffs them out and, in some cases, wounds them for existing. Like the dodo.   

A lot of The Interrobangers works. The cast has a strong, cohesive bond. The actors work well together. Their camaraderie is 100% believable and trustworthy. They revel in the world-building of Levine, Glenn-Kayden, and the designers. Were the play to begin and end there, it would be an effective, thoughtful art piece. 

Jupiter Lê brightened the stage as Hoover the dog. Lê conveys strong emotion through an inanimate puppet. His work alongside the human characters was a highlight of the evening. 

The van set piece on a wheeled platform was cleverly devised and thoughtfully executed. It took some extra show energy to get the van onto the stage, but the Scooby van reveal to the audience was worth the wait. 

The scene transitions don’t work. We can see the work that went into making the transitions work: the music selections, the lighting choices, and the exactness of the set moves. The transitions are still disjointed and take the audience out of the performance.  

The one or two transitions that did work utilized overhead projection and the actors’ presence. Both were enough to distract us from the ongoing tech work onstage and prepare us for the next scene.  

Rabb Hall is not an ideal space for this production. It is too small for the work traveling from backstage to onstage. The Interrobangers needs a black box theatre.

At its core, The Interrobangers is about a chosen family refinding itself after trauma. The focus settles firmly on young adults reconnecting after six years of separation. Cryptids and detective work are significant but secondary parts of the play. 

Who’s a good boy? Hoover is! Photo by Erin Crowley.

Traditional narratives tell us that a play should resolve neatly. The Interrobangers ends and it leaves questions unanswered. Plot points are unresolved. Audience members may feel uneasy about this. The characters need solutions too. They are still figuring themselves out. Try to sit with your unease. Enjoy it.

Attendees, please check the library’s hours of operation. Your performance may be scheduled for after the library closes. A Company One rep will be at the front doors to let audience members into the building. 

Try to arrive at Boston Public Library early. Company One is partnering with many local organizations to uplift ongoing activist work around Boston. The room before Rabb Hall has activity tables to engage audience members before and after the show. There are information packets stocked on every surface. 

C1 has done extraordinary work to make resources available to those who need it. Outreach and accessibility are a part of the production experience. You don’t want to miss your opportunity to learn more about C1’s good work in their communities.

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