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Reviewed by:
  • Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century, and: Good Cop Bad Cop, and: Don John
  • Steve Earnest
Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century. Written and performed by World/Inferno Friendship Society. Emmett Robinson Theatre, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. 29 May 2009.
Good Cop Bad Cop. Developed and performed by Kassys Theatre Initiative, Amsterdam. Emmett Robinson Theatre, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. 6 June 2009.
Don John. Directed by Emily Rice. Kneehigh Theatre Company, Cornwall, UK, in association with the Old Vic Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Memminger Auditorium, Charleston, SC. 6 June 2009.

As the Spoleto Festival USA, held each May through early June in Charleston, South Carolina, entered the twenty-first century, it seemed that several of the city’s downtown theatrical spaces would scarcely be able to support the growing technical requirements of the international productions that were invited. However, under the visionary artistic leadership of Nigel Redden, that began to change in 2005. The addition of the College of Charleston’s Emmett Robinson Theatre, along with the renovation in 2008 of Memminger Auditorium and upgrades to the historic Dock Street Theatre (planned to reopen in 2010) have significantly raised production capabilities in the ailing venues associated with the festival. Noticeable advancements in technical production, particularly in the areas of lighting, machinery for scenic automation, and especially in the use of multimedia, characterized the 2009 festival.

Addicted to Bad Ideas told the story of Peter Lorre’s career as an actor in Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York, and his lifelong struggle to transcend typecasting as a character actor in second-rate horror movies. The Brooklyn-based World/Inferno Friendship Society performed Addicted to Bad Ideas in its traditional punk-rock cabaret style. Lead vocalist and librettist Jack Terricloth bounded about the stage in classic punk style (incomprehensible at times, unfortunately), alternately engaging in dialogue with the audience and playing scenes with the other characters. Speaking with Lorre’s trademark nasal delivery and dry humor, Terricloth and Jan Smith, who portrayed Michelle (Peter’s daughter), seemed intentionally to connect with the traditional elements of character, while the other actor/musicians distanced themselves from genuine attachment to their roles, playing instruments while “quoting” ancillary figures like Humphrey Bogart, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Joseph Goebbels from Lorre’s life.


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Jack Terricloth and the World/Inferno Friendship Society in Addicted to Bad Ideas. (Photo: Spoleto Festival USA.)


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Esther Snelder and Liesbeth Gritter in Good Cop Bad Cop. (Photo: Spoleto Festival USA.)

The visual score for Addicted to Bad Ideas included clips from Lorre’s films interwoven with stage scenes captured in real time by onstage video cameras. The resultant collage sequences were meticulously coordinated and perfectly matched World/Inferno’s musical score. However, one major element—the sheer volume and “punkness” of the ensemble’s delivery—undermined these choreographed sequences and generally overpowered and distorted the sung lyrics. While lyric sheets were offered at the outset, I found the lyrics nearly incomprehensible and they were undoubtedly even more unclear for those audience members who chose to accept the complimentary earplugs that were distributed. Overall, Addicted to Bad Ideas told an important and interesting story, but the marriage of Peter Lorre’s story with the punk aesthetic was, unfortunately, a bit of a mismatch.

Also presented in the cozy Emmett Robinson Theatre, Good Cop Bad Cop was a complex commentary on reality television developed by Kassys Theatre Initiative, a Dutch ensemble specializing in [End Page 114] works combining theatre and film. Performed by founding members Liesbeth Gritter, Esther Snelder, and Ton Heijilers, the movement-based piece dealt with the daily lives and challenges of three household pets, who engaged in such activities as waiting for the master to arrive and vying to greet him first, scratching and sniffing one another, and frolicking around the realistically designed room. The actors presented the animals—two cats and a dog—onstage in human terms (i.e., no attempt at animal makeup or costumes) and confronted their personal anxieties, feelings, and decisions through monologues that were taped and presented on an upstage...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 114-116
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-16
Open Access
No
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