Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Bereaved (The Wild Project)

The Bereaved
The Wild Project
September 3, 2009
Thomas Bradshaw (writer)
May Adrales (director)

Thomas Bradshaw has established bona fides as an anarchist pitted against liberal shibboleths, and his latest piece happily continues the savagery. The middle-class family of The Bereaved may have bleeding hearts, but they pump hot blood, not milk. The play's engine revs up when a coke-related incident hospitalizes the matriarch: from her deathbed, she insists her husband marry her best friend, lest her death leave the family destitute. This wish frees his and his son's most reckless impulses and leads to deeply kinky sex and drug dealing to students (among other transgressive pleasures).

It's hard to tell whether Bradshaw celebrates this emancipation from convention or condemns it, but he definitely enjoys it. A “proper” play would see the mother recover and work to re-impose order (successfully or not). But this isn't a proper play. It's great that the show moves forward, but it pretty obviously doesn't have a destination in mind. Instead, Bradshaw improvises plot twists until he ends the show more or less arbitrarily. Nobody learns anything—that's for squares—or has any other arc of development.

But this dramaturgical flaw is covered by director May Adrales by keeping the momentum at full throttle. Gutsy performances by the actors help too: nearly everyone gets naked at some point, and they simulate sex with special enthusiasm—whereas drug use is wickedly performed with all the mundanity of drinking water. Bradshaw and company offer a grand, cathartic release by setting free the perversity of modern American liberals.


The Bereaved plays at the Wild Project (195 E. Third St., betw. A & B), closing on September 26. Tickets?

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