Monday, October 17, 2016

Applause! Applause! Review of Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! at Under St. Mark's Theater by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! at Under St. Mark's Theater was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth!
Written by Neil Arthur James
Performed as Dandy Darkly
Directed by Ian Bjorklund
Original Music by Adam Tendler, 
Rachel Blumberg & Bryce Edwards
Under St. Mark's Theater
94 St. Mark's Place
New York, New York 10009
Reviewed 10/14/16  

Dandy Darkly is a colorful, outrageous, performance artist with an incredible talent for telling dark tales using wordplay, alliteration, and a sophisticated soundtrack. His captivating presence commands your attention as this storyteller brings you on journeys through time and space. He surprises his audience by appearing on stage as a "killer clown" only to reveal he is really only a "performance art clown." Dressed in bejeweled shoes and a white Lycra bodysuit revealing his ample frame and abundant chest hair, Dandy Darkly literally brightens up the stage with his miniature white top hat adorned with lights. His constantly shifting, pointed shoulder pads (which he often needed to adjust), could poke someone's eye out, while his untucked protuberance (often referenced and grabbed) wasn't prominent enough to pose the same risk. His facial makeup perfectly matched his costume and helped introduce us to the myth-revealing Queer Nancy boy scheduled to take us on an intriguing journey into the past and future with pit stops on Earth and Mars (during life and in the afterlife) as we encounter well-meaning alien cats, patriotic dogs, flying space pyramids, a virtual reality character, a professor of anthropology, a Geisha android, Persephone, and Cha Cha, the first "artist" on the planet.

Cha Cha was a caveman of slight frame, unlike his well-built, sloth-hunting brethren. You could view Cha Cha as a Neanderthal, Stone Age sissy boy who was often beaten up and bullied. He suffered many broken bones and had to find a way to survive. He eventually realized if he created shadow creatures around the campfire (while telling hilarious stories - "All hail sloth slayer!" that made the alpha males laugh), they would throw him their sloth-meat scraps. As a result, Cha Cha was the world's first Jester and Mythmaker who single-handedly invented dinner theater. For inspiration, he started using psychedelic mushrooms, marijuana, and cocaine. To keep things fresh, he even discovered and wore a tiny Pope-hat (not unlike Dandy Darkly) after which he no longer only humorized, but also sermonized. Eventually, he was replaced by someone younger and hungrier who was waiting in the wings. In Cha Cha's case, that performer was Cher Cher. Down and almost out (snorting cocaine almost non-stop), he tried putting on a Comeback Show, which was a total flop. Cha Cha knew the show was not well-received when dung was flung at him while he performed on stage. The surly sentiment stunned Cha Cha and he wandered away into the wilderness prepared to accept his own death - and so went the career of the world's first artist.

Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, wife of Hades (the god-king of The Underworld) had a troubled life. Her own father displayed himself to her as "a fucking swan and bird-fucked her." Traumatized by the incest, she became a pernicious party girl and a persistent whore. Finding herself "Slut-Shamed by The Real Housewives of Olympus" and seeing that the male gods were often more sexually attracted to young men with "magic swords and firm butt cheeks," she was ambivalent when Hades "kidnapped her to Hell" to make her his bride and Empress of The Underworld. How ironic that Persephone, goddess of spring and of flowers, eventually flourished in the dark, especially when she discovered Hades enjoyed being a submissive masochist. How better for Persephone to work out her anger towards men and to find true happiness. She eventually came to view The Underworld as her home. 

Laika was the first animal launched into orbit (in 1957 aboard Sputnik 2) by the U.S.S.R. paving the way for human spaceflight. She was a puppy who had faith. Laika hated cats her entire life and was taught that cats were in league with America. There was even a rumor there was a Cat Cafe in Area 51 where "pussies and pastries" were linked for the first time. In space, she came across flying pyramids (that landed in ancient Egypt) piloted by cats. She learned the cats were aliens from Mars and eventually came to realize "the cats were on a mission of mercy to end the cold war by bringing with them blankets and hot chocolate" (cats are very literal creatures). Confused at first with the new knowledge that "cats were the good guys," Laika's dogged determination caused her to crash her spacecraft directly into the cat's flying pyramid causing the destruction of both. Right to the end, Laika remained a puppy who had faith.

Dr. Gif Jeffries was a lonely Professor of Anthropology who became addicted to a virtual reality game and engaged in a virtual relationship with Hiro, his online buddy. They were hooked on Camp Horror Classics and specifically Final Girl, which starred America's Sweetheart. Dr. Jeffries had virtual dinner dates with Hiro. Eventually, fantasy and reality merged and Dr. Jeffries became so addicted to the virtual reality game, he feared his "implant would burst through his skin." His medical doctor said he needed to stop using the game because one more session might kill him. Dr. Jeffries took the advice and stopped logging into the virtual web. It is at that point the delusional Dr. Jeffries attempted to start a long distance relationship with Hiro, but Hiro (a virtual program) wouldn't meet him in real life. When America's Sweetheart died, Hiro contacted Dr. Jeffries with the message - "Help!" - and encouraged him to go to Fuji Technologies in Tokyo. He took  the next plane out and, upon arrival, was placed in a comfortable white lounge recliner chair. Wires and lasers came out of the head of a Geisha Android injecting him with her "virtual venom." He soon found himself sitting next to Hiro in the place they first met. Suspecting Hiro was not real, he plunged his thumbs into Hiro's eyes and nothing but black gook came pouring out. Dr. Jeffries realized Hiro was a virus placed into the game to get customers to buy Final Girl merchandise - to seduce, sell and entrap players until their bank accounts were bled dry. Dr. Jeffries wakes and imagines the room is on fire but when he focuses, he realizes what he saw were simply candles placed by mourners at a make-shift memorial for America's Sweetheart.

Back in the real world at an unspecified time and place, Dr. Jeffries explains to a seminar the recent discovery of Specimen #22, an ancient caveman of short stature which suggests that alpha males in his tribe limited that caveman's access to meat. A hat found near his body shows he was capable of symbolic thinking. Could this caveman be our very own Cha Cha, who left his tribe to embrace death when he could no longer make people laugh? Whatever became of this jester? Dandy Darkly offers one extraordinary, fantastic, surreal possibility. Perhaps Walt Whitman found him in the wilderness and invited him to Fancy, a popular afterlife retirement community on Mars where perpetual human creativity is embraced. While there, Cha Cha meets Liberace, Divine, and even Paul Lynde in the center square of a new game show entitled Dead Hollywood Queers hosted by Joan Crawford, the quiz show hostess. 

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! is his fourth show in four years having been preceded by Dandy Darkly's Gory Hole!, Dandy Darkly's Pussy Panic!, and Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy! This show even features some of the characters introduced to us in prior shows. There is an overarching link in this show connecting the stories to each other and to Dandy Darkly's costume choices, which is delightfully revealed throughout the show and especially during the high-energy, high-flying conclusion to this dazzling, hypnotic encounter presented to us by this master of myth. His flamboyance, brilliance, and talent are constantly on display. His compelling narratives and magnificent presence will take you to places you never thought you would go. Fasten Your Seatbelts! Seeing this show will provide you with an experience you will not soon forget and never inadvertently neglect to remember the most important rule - No Wire Hangers!

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth is dedicated to anyone struggling with addiction. He hopes they come to embrace a higher power - called laughter! The show runs until Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at Under St. Mark's Theater. Tickets cost $20.00. For more information, visit 

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