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Volume 68, Issue 118, Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

'Drugs' has twisted view of puppets and art

By Chris Goodier
The Daily Cougar

Itis likely that the current Infernal Bridegroom Productions play wouldnit work without the collaboration of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre. Thanks to the contorted renderings by junior UH theater major Yelena Zhelezov, the charactersi features add a surreal vibe to each scene.

The master puppeteer creates a believable environment that considers art itself to be The Noblest of Drugs. You can buy it on the street corner by scene two.

Troubled artist Stan (a character based on the life of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz) canit get a hookup on good paints in this town, but the cocaine he indulges in is plentiful. The resulting physical craving fuels his more burdensome creative proclivities: painting, poetry and drama writing.

While Stan carries himself as a contending painter, the means by which he receives inspiration are reckless. Mirroring the Polish art icon (who was known as Witkacy) at the turn of the century, Stan manages to snort, screw and manipulate his way into becoming a self-proclaimed underground art anti-hero.

Any creatively inclined individual with a sense of humor will love the thick satire that blankets Noblest.

The depressed Stan views his intellect as a curse and himself as a victim of his own lack of success.

"Society is to blame for lagging behind my concepts," the visionary cries to his mother during a fit of inadequacy.

Stan contemplates ideas "to light afire the anthill of society," but audiences never see a completed project over the course of the play.

As is characteristic of many Infernal Bridegroom works, the content can be shocking. Elements hinting at incest, fantastic cocaine benders and resorting to blood as paint may disturb audiences.

The statements presented really make The Noblest of Drugs endearing with its tongue-in-cheek portrayals.

Stan shows his fears over the maintenance of his outer appearance in a third-act monologue: "Iim sickened; I canit maintain the elaborate construct around my ambition, but the process dwarfs the product."

His attempts to resemble an artist drain him of all remaining creative energy. Such infectious humor makes the play satisfactory.

Bobbindoctrin executes the working of the play well. There are excellent scene changes and the voices fit the characters perfectly. The sound, light and action create a very believable performance.

Most effective was the look of the puppets themselves, resembling animated political cartoons with freaky authenticity; however, the actual puppeteering seemed to suffer at times.

The live musical accompaniment of IBP veterans Kirk Suddreath (drums) and Anthony Barilla (accordion) was both fresh and impressive.

The Noblest of Drugs is a must-see for any artist. It runs Fridays and Saturdays through April 12 at The Axiom. Call 713-522-8443 for more information.

The Noblest of Drugs

Infernal Bridegroom Productions/ Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre

The Axiom, 2524 McKinney St.

The verdict: Arrive early; sit close.

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