Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
March 13, 2015
When was the last time you went to see a play (or three) in a tattoo parlor? Where ‘audience participation’ included one attendee getting an actual tattoo?
Welcome to the world of The Trip Theater, where ‘site-specific’ means off the beaten track and often off-the-wall.
This time, the wildly imaginative troupe gives us, with complete truth in advertising, “3 Plays in a Tattoo Shop,” in association with Full Circle Tattoo in South Park.
It’s an experience, to be sure. Only about 20 people can fit on the various folding chairs, while the tattoo table and three reclining seats are put to dramatic use.
In a swift 75 minutes, we get three stories, three new works, all linked to tattoos and, as director Joshua Brody helpfully informs us, all concern issues of permanence (like tattoos) and impermanence (like life).
Death features in two of the plays. In “Three Brothers in a Tattoo Shop,” by Emily Dendinger , the titular siblings, in watching their ailing father die, inadvertently notice a 3-letter female-looking monogram tattooed on his upper thigh. They’ve come to the tat place to investigate. Brothers also feature in the third and most satisfying, fully realized and ultimately, most intriguingly enigmatic piece, “A Vacancy for a Bad Summer,” by Ryan Campbell. The youngest of three brothers had a self-drawn silhouette of his mother for his prized tattoo; now he’s killed himself, and his brothers try to make sense of his life and death.
Sandwiched in between is the airiest of the three plays, Emily Feldman’s “Two Pigeons Exactly the Same ,” which is what a gay couple, vowing eternal commitment, repeatedly asks of a deeply resistant Australian tattoo artist. Malleable actor Jared Houseman is, in fact, an Aussie. The other two performers, Matthew MacNelly and Thomas Miller, also morph easily among their characters, under Brody’s crisp direction.
This unique evening of theater is well executed, even thought-provoking. You might learn a thing or two about tats. You might even get one.
The Trip’s “3 Plays in a Tatoo Shop” runs through March 15, at Full Circle Tattoo in South Park.
©2015 PAT LAUNER