- First of all, hooray!!! This was so fun! Of course, I have notes, but I want to make it clear that I definitely had a great time at this show!
- The production was a well-unified pop art-infused highly stylized comic book post apocalyptic puppet world. Every one and every thing about the production belonged in this world, so it was a nice, tight ensemble.
- I have to make a comment on the phallocentrism of the writing. I didn't know of Robert Askins before (although I probably should), but there was just.... a lot of dick-related dialogue. I don't think that comes from the pop art comics, I think it's just Askins, but I don't know. There were multiple kicks and grabs and punches (by the giant green hand) to people assumed to have balls. And there were lines like:
"purple velvet dick tickle"
"I landed on my dilly"
"which one?" - Pig Shit responding to a question about his special appendage
- Also relating to this, the publicity poster, and the cover of the program shows Pig Shit and the Gunslinger en route to the Frozen City, which is uninhibitedly made up of buildings shaped like sex toys. No accident there.
- A character called Charlene embodies all of my perceptions of Askins's possibly misogynist slant. Charlene is a sort of hillbilly girl, with a pronounced twang, clad in tiny daisy dukes and boots. She offers Pig Shit a bite of her "turnip" but not before teasing him with it. Eventually, Pig Shit says to her, "you're frustrating." People laughed, but it sounded like an accusation to me. I don't know the pulp comic universe that this play is riffing off of well enough to know if Askins is commenting on women in pulp. Or was this a pulpy trope that could have been transcended, but wasn't?
- Okay, so the Great Glass Spider was pretty awesome! I'm glad we got to see a lot of her, because what an amazing thing to watch! But, while I was watching this "Spider Woman," I was also thinking critically about the women in the play to this point. So far, there was Momma, a fantastic puppet, proficiently manipulated by the same actor playing the character of the Spider, Sofia Jean Gomez; there was Charlene, whom I have already complained about; the Spider Queen; and cannibal cultists who were obviously insane. It just made me wonder about the depiction of women in the play, but I was also aware of their pulp derivations.
- There was a narrator who popped in sometimes. I think he is an entirely unnecessary character because there were also projected titles. I wondered if his lines were just there to give that actor, Bobby Moreno, something to say because he has an amazing voice. He would come in every once and a while and say something like, "That was fuckin' ridiculous. Oh yeah, [Pig Shit's] standing by a river." I thought the narrative commentary was extraneous and kind of stupid. It's funnier without it.
- Speaking of stupid jokes, I would cut the allusion's to 80s rock tunes. Totally cheeseball. The play is already funny without the pun-y gags like that. Then again, is that the time period for this pulp? I don't know. This stuff seems like it's earlier than the 80s, right? If I were writing an article, I'd look it up.
- As the play progressed, I became more concerned with gender depictions. I understand pulp gunslingers etc. are campy exaggerated gendered icons, but again, I always hope these things are either somehow commented on or transgressed, and neither occurs in this play. There is a line describing a setting as the "mechanical reproduction of the womb of God." My ears opened up at that, but I couldn't figure out what things like that meant. Then, there's the fact that the cowboy's name is Lesley. Is that a joke? It's not a funny one. Or is that the comment on the gender iconography? I can't tell.
- The monster puppet with 3 actors in it = INCREDIBLE! So good! Also, of course, the Green Hand, whom I have not yet really discussed. Excellent puppeteering. And I should say, the physical direction in the entire production was excellent! Jose Zayas added so much to the piece through careful choreography that was well-timed and well-executed by this very professional cast. It makes a lovely change to see competent performers (sad as that is to say in New York City of all places, it's true).
- I loved the scene with the fire-breathing tigers. I was laughing the whole way through it. Really loved it.
- The Gunslinger had some juicy dialogue, for example: "Jesus tits," "double asshole," and "beef stew" - all expletives. But... "fucktard"? Really? I have to believe Askins is capable of a better choice.
- Now, to round it all up, I know I have expressed concerns specifically about how overtly masculine (and potentially misogynist) the play may be, but much of my fear was relieved in one of the final scenes: a quiet and peaceful moment between Pig Shit and Momma. It was beautifully performed between Gomez and Joe Paulik as Pig Shit. Because the puppet of Momma was so completely alive, her death was even more moving. It was a breathtaking moment, and its silence was a nice counterpoint to all of the rest of the play which is ridiculous and loud, sometimes obnoxiously so.
- I could have done without the grotesque face mask on Preston Martin as Benjamin at the end, but I'm sure it suits the genre. It was just more graphically disgusting than anything else in the piece. I mean, there's an eyeball hanging off of his face...
- I generally would have taken a lot more notes during a show, but it was just so fun that I just sat there and went along for the ride, and it was well worth it. Even with my concerns, it was a totally fun adventure story. Just like the Gunslinger warned, it was "hard and weird and wild out there."