Americana Absurdum

rsz_show-absurdum

 

Americana Absurdum is composed of two related pieces, Vomit and Roses and Wolverine Dream. In Vomit and Roses, a family-owned funeral parlor tries to fight off a corporate takeover, while the family’s outcast teenage daughter longs for a date to the high-school prom. In Wolverine Dream, an airliner crash leads to a courtroom showdown between relatives of the dead and the highly unsympathetic airline president – who also happens to be a famous modernist poet. An Irish attorney, a wolverine, and two leprechauns also appear. Performed by nine actors, six men and three women. Approximate running time: two hours.

 

Awards

Best Writing Award, New York International Fringe Festival, 1997

Fringe First Award, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2000

 

Productions

Nada, New York City, 1995 (Vomit and Roses)

Nada, New York City, 1996 (Wolverine Dream)

New York International Fringe Festival, 1997

The Theatorium, New York City, 1997

The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2000

Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre, London, UK, 2004

P.S. 122, New York City, 2006

New York International Fringe Festival, New York City, 2006

Renegade Theatre Experiment, San Jose, California, 2007

Des Moines Social Club, Des Moines, Iowa, 2010

 

Purchase

A script of Americana Absurdum may be purchased through Indie Theater Now. Right here.

 

Reviews

Americana Absurdum, written by Brian Parks – a former theatre editor of The Village Voice – isn’t so much off-off-Broadway as off-off-the map. Although comprising two distinct one-hour pieces, it’s united by the same delirious-deadpan tone, defying the audience to keep up with bullet-fast gags, bookishly beautiful turns of phrase and scenes that click on and off at a stroke, thanks to the nine-strong cast’s rapid deployment of hand-held lighting…. What does it all mean? It’s anyone’s guess: one moment you think it’s a satire on America’s consumerist idyll, the next a Whitmanesque reminder that the world can be appreciated in awe, no matter how degraded. What’s not in doubt is the formidable talent on display. As bracing as a bucket of espresso coffee.  THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

Among the handful of plays I attended, only Americana Absurdum, a pair of caustic, hyperarticulate comedies by Brian Parks, fanned flames of inspiration. Taking aim at such all-American targets as the funeral industry, lawyers, corporate greed, suburban torpor and the movie Carrie, Mr. Parks and an expert cast send up American culture in the venomous tradition of Christopher Durang. The second half, “Wolverine Dream,” is the funnier. Its best moments include a pair of men dressed as clowns – “notification clowns” in Mr. Parks’s demented vocabulary – deployed by an airline to inform next of kin about a crash, and a nifty courtroom scene in which a wolverine is the confoundingly mute star witness. As the lawyers, Paul Urcioli and Jeff Ricketts delivered a finely matched set of satirical performances. THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

The lines machine-gunned at you are funny, often hilariously so. Parks does wordplay, Python-esque surrealism and brilliant banter (“If you were anorexic,” a woman tells her daughter, “at least you’d have a goal”). Meanwhile, the talented nine-strong cast amidst the zaniness and constant activity even manage to lend a sympathetic humanity to their loathsome characters. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to check out the new Menier theatre, this is it. Thrilling. TIME OUT LONDON

 

A pair of hits from the New York company Americana Absurdum. Vomit and Roses places American life under scrutiny in a witty, surreal and intelligent comedy set in a Midwestern funeral parlour. In Wolverine Dream, clowns, lawyers, airline tycoons, and a wolverine populate a wickedly comic America of the 21st century. The Simpsons meets the warped logic of Being John Malkovich. THE SCOTSMAN

 

Image credit: Chris Sorensen