Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off Off Broadway: Order

Imagine The Silence of the Lambs as it might have been written by Jean Genet and adapted for the stage by Martin McDonagh and you will get some idea of the flavor of Order by Christopher Stetson Boal, the Oberon Theatre Ensemble production now playing at the Kirk Theatre in Theatre Row on West 42nd Street in New York.

This ambitious multi-layered psychological and philosophical work deals with the nature of good and evil, dominance and submission, psychopathy, power, relativism, sex, homosexuality, murder, cannibalism, and demonic possession - and does a first-rate job of it. The play revolves around Tom Blander (Ryan Tramont), a former philosophy professor obsessed with the desire to make a small positive difference in the world but who devolves into a power-hungry, murderous, cannibalistic monster and Bathug (Gabe Bettio), his evil unconscious alter ego or the demon who possesses him (and who, perhaps, someday may possess us all). Both Mr. Tramont and Mr. Bettio play their roles extremely well as do all of the other members of this excellent ensemble: Amanda Plant as Maisy, Tom's wife; Brad Fryman as Dr. Fine, Tom's psychiatrist; Mac Brydon as Adam Jacobi, Tom's boss; James Edward Becton as Joe Davis, Tom's friend; James S. Washington as the homeless man; and William Laney as Detective Arlow.

One caveat: while I thoroughly enjoyed this show, it might not appeal to the more squeamish. I am sure that many would find both the nature of the subject matter and the manner in which much of it is portrayed quite offensive and disturbing. Forewarned is forearmed.

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