Methusalem’s Kat Letwin and Jiv Parasram do the absurd thing.
METHUSALEM OR THE ETERNAL BOURGEOIS by Yvan Goll (Red Light District). At Whippersnapper Gallery (587a College). To January 17. $15. 647-283-9457. See Continuing. Rating: NN
When Yvan Goll wrote Methusalem Or The Eternal Bourgeois in 1918, his surrealist dialogue, obsession with half-robot characters and penchant for marrying early cinema to theatre was absolutely cutting-edge.
Those early German audiences must have been taken aback by bizarre, futuristic characters like Felix (Reid Linforth), who has a telephone and typewriter attached to his body.
But these days human-machine hybrids exist, and thanks to BlackBerrys and Bluetooth, people like Felix - the prototype for our super-connected society - are everywhere. On top of that, absurdity for its own sake has been done to death; and it's rare today to see a play without some video component.
Sadly, Methusalem has lost the jarring future-shock that Goll, a predecessor of Ionesco and Genet, intended. All that's left is a flimsy, uncompelling plot and a few dated wisecracks about capitalism.
Ted Witzel's production is drenched in bombastic communist iconography (complete with a manifesto), but Goll's weak political commentary amounts to nothing more than barked revolutionary slogans and clichéd condemnations of bourgeois opulence.
A different approach - like setting the production in 1920s Germany - might have offered new insights into this absurdist chestnut.
Add Lauren Gillis's Ida Methusalem, who speaks in a halting, shrill scream and hammers away on a cowbell, plus a long dance sequence set to Aqua's Barbie Girl, and weird becomes annoying really fast.