Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Mayhem Oozes from the Womb ; the Beer-Swigging Troupe Radiohole Offers Vision of Frankenstein's Monster

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Mayhem Oozes from the Womb ; the Beer-Swigging Troupe Radiohole Offers Vision of Frankenstein's Monster

Article excerpt

Radiohole's "Inflatable Frankenstein" is all about the difficulties of the act of creation.

Yuck, what a mess. What a sticky, goopy, embarrassing, all-over- the-place and absolutely necessary mess. This is what happens when you try to give birth to something: an original idea, a paragraph, a play, a human being. Now that the little monster has torn its way out of the womb, don't expect it to clean up after itself.

Radiohole, the Brooklyn-based experimental theater company, has dedicated much of its 14 beer-swigging years of existence to the proposition that art isn't tidy. But even theatergoers who remember this company's slobbering, caveman-style consumption of a mountain of greasy chicken -- that was in "Radiohole Is Still My Name" in 2004 -- may recoil before the dripping forms of afterbirth on display in their "Inflatable Frankenstein," which opened Saturday night at the Kitchen.

Yep, Frankenstein's monster, that ultimate big galoot and wayward child of one mad scientist's fevered brain, has been resurrected to give the members of Radiohole a chance to do what they do best: Talk fancy, sing badly and play very inventively with both their food and their iPhones. And if you have any unkind judgments to make on these proceedings, speak fast, because the odds are that the cast will voice the same opinion long before you do.

"Inflatable Frankenstein," a co-production of Performance Space 122 and the Kitchen, is one of the opening productions in a month replete with theater work that aims to stake out (or make up) new artistic frontiers. Running simultaneously in New York this January are PS 122's Coil festival, of which "Frankenstein" is a part, and the Under the Radar festival, which operates under the aegis of the Public Theater. And it's hard to think of a more fitting prologue to the weeks of innovation and mayhem ahead.

For this "Frankenstein," like the original 1816 novel by Mary Shelley and the assorted movie adaptations and literary riffs of the succeeding couple of centuries, is all about the difficulties of the act of creation. And not just the Promethean efforts of a demented man of science to summon life in a laboratory. This show also considers the more natural, if ultimately no less complicated, and old-fashioned form of childbirth.

That's baby making as it was experienced, often tragically, by Shelley in the early 19th century and (by implication) as it has been experienced in the early 21st century by members of Radiohole.

Then of course there is the great artistic offspring that is Shelley's "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus," and the many multiform descendants it spawned. The text -- if such a term can be applied to the mutable, self-destructing words that are heard in "Inflatable Frankenstein" -- draws from Shelley's novel; James Whale's celebrated "Frankenstein" movies of the 1930s; autobiographical writings by Shelley and the theoretical musings of Antonin Artaud ("Theater of Cruelty").

These sources are discussed, with deliberately clumsy pretentiousness, in a sort of symposium that is conducted early in this hourlong show. A microphone is passed among -- and thrown and ripped from the hands of -- six performers, who talk about the genesis of the show and the personal, historical, sexual and sociological implications of the Frankenstein myth before one speaker descends into polysyllabic gobbledygook that puts a period to any serious discussion. …

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