Tag: Vineyard Theatre

The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | All Things, Arts

The ever-versatile and accomplished Ben Katchor is the 1995 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, an Obie Award winner (for his “comic-book opera,” The Carbon Copy Building), and creator of books, graphic novels, cartoon strips, magazine illustrations, and radio shows. Katchor wrote the libretto and created the animated drawings for The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (or The Friends of Dr. Rushower), the show I was at The Vineyard Theatre to see tonight. (The same company developed the critically acclaimed Avenue Q and [title of show].) Check out the commercial for their latest show here.

Katchor described it as an “absurdist romance… about the romance of poetry and humanitarianism.” For his darkly funny, slyly political musical, he collaborated with Mark Mulcahy, former frontman for indie rockers Miracle Legion and Adventures of Pete & Pete house band Polaris.  The Kitchen, New York’s non-profit experimental performance space, commissioned The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island and secured the majority of the show’s funding; it was presented at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003 and at The Kitchen in 2004 before making its way to Union Square.

Vineyard Theatre

The action is set in Manhattan and on a tropical factory-island in the fictional “Roomy Archipelago,” where workers toil to transport small lead weights (destined for placement in unseen appliances to give the impression of “heft and worth”) from factory to ship. After the laborers plight is exposed on the news, well-intentioned philanthropist Dr. Rushower (Peter Friedman) takes it up as his annual cause to organize an expedition from New York City to Kayrol Island; he sends his idealistic daughter GinGin (Jody Flader) and her suitor Immanuel Lubang (Bobby Steggert) to provide solace to the exploited workers by introducing them to the beauty of “consumer fiction” — poetry found in the text of obscure appliance instructional pamphlets. Complications ensue when the locals don’t — or can’t — appreciate the offering, and GinGin falls in love with local slug bearer Samson (Matt Pearson) — who, as it happens, is not all that unhappy with his lot — drawn to the liberation of a life where labor is divorced from purpose. Katchor’s colorful, shifting landscapes are projected onto large, folding screens on stage: a swanky penthouse, a poetry slam at a Macedonian coffee house, a city street, a biplane soaring over the ocean, a tropical paradise marred by smokestacks and cinderblock buildings… The overall effect is whimsical and delightful, and Mulcahy’s catchy pop score is sung through by the actors and played with terrific energy by an actual four-piece rock band.

Slug Bearers

The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island
is playing at The Vineyard Theatre through March 2, 2008.

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