February 20, 2009


Abraham Werewolf (Danny Bischoff, Matt Hooks, Jack
McDonald, and Alberto Mendoza) does NOT ART


Rachel Shine

Oh, characters, you slay me.  Remember Zach Plague’s boring boring boring boring boring boring boring and how it used modern archetypes to deconstruct the art world?  Not dissimilarly, Abraham Werewolf and their production of “Not Art” play with the traditional roles of the boys-in-a-band structure and we come out laughing.
They originally wanted to put on Yasmina Reza’s “Art,” but Steppenwolf got there first, so rather than take up the long fight for the rights, they wrote their own piece inspired by the original.  And it’s quite clever.
Alright, I have to admit here that I’ve never seen or read the original play.  But the way Abraham Werewolf played with it went like this: Tony Bongos of the band D’Artagnan buys a painting from a “very fashionable” painter.  He unveils it to the singer of the band, Billy, who digs the painting, (“How much did you pay for this?” “$5,000”  “What a steal!”  “I know!”) but not the interpretive “prongo” (progressive bongo) rhythm Tony’s written to channel the painting’s energy.  Tony in turn shows the piece and his rhythm to the guitarist who totally digs both.  They think Billy is being a controlling so and so.  Egos collide when the guitarist is late for practice because, we come to find out, his pregnant fiancée is breaking off the wedding, which concerns him most sincerely because she’s making him late for band practice.  Once he finally arrives, bottle of whiskey in hand to be sure, the three of them go at it about fiancées, familial relations, maracas and bandmatedom.  At the precipice before they break up as a band and as friends, the guitarist gets a call from his newly exed fiancee and Tony and Billy take a quick time-out to recognize that this is not who they are.  They are friends, man.  You know what they need to solve this?  A scapegoat! And right then the guitarist returns with the information that the girl was never pregnant- she just got fat!  So they figure she’s part of the evil-doings that has torn them apart, (“I bought that painting to impress a girl!” “Everything I’ve ever done to was to impress a girl!”) and they start playing music: a well-harmonized, catchy tune that sends us off right and reunites them as a creative unit.  As soon as they’ve finished, Billy exclaims that he’s disappointed the mic wasn’t on, he wished they’d recorded it.  Just then the narrator re-enters to say, oh, but you have, and holds up a cd-r of the night’s music.  It’s for sale in the lobby, he explains.  The lobby? they repeat.  Yes, our narrator returns, they’ve seen the whole thing, as the house lights come up and the characters realize their silly drama has been witnessed.  And we all laugh and laugh. . .
Here’s the thing, though.  I went to Gorilla Tango last night to see the show, and it was their last of “Not Art.”  However, Abraham Werewolf will be back in the spring with a Grand Guignol-inspired production, which means late nineteenth to early twentieth century Parisian horror theater.  Oh, yeah.