Sept. 14, 2010

Brock Kilgore

Perhaps Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has a foot fetish, or maybe pickled feet just make a really good prop.

Regardless, feet, and what they can do – dead or alive – are the focus of this funny play.

Theatre ‘d Art is UCCS’ avant-garde theater company, and their production of the dark comedy “A Devil Inside” will play in University Hall’s Osborne Studio Theatre for the next two weekend nights.

Theatre ‘d Art, which specializes in “absurdist, surrealist and avant-garde theatre,” is now entering its fouth season. Co-founders Brian Mann and “A Devil Inside” director Jonathan Margheim have “the intent to provide Colorado Springs with bold and engaging productions you can’t see anywhere else.”

“The Devil Inside” opens on the lead character Gene’s 21st birthday. Gene is a clueless youth whose mother has been waiting until this moment to reveal that Gene’s father was tragically murdered years before, his feet removed and dumped in a ditch.

The story then swirls through the lives of Brad and Lily, who work and reside in an appliance repair shop; young Caitlin and Professor Carl Raymonds who engage in a deviant romance; and Mrs. Slater and Gene who have differences in what, or whom, he should pursue.

The disturbed professor deludes that Brad, the simple repairman who wants to write a children’s story about a wallpaper devil, is plotting to kill him, and launches a hilarious retaliation. Gene lusts after Caitlin, who lunges after the Professor while Lily ignores Brad, and draws feet. All the while everyone’s connection to Gene’s father’s murder looms in the background, and his severed feet keep turning up and seem to be everyone’s subconscious obsession. The ending is complexly bizarre with a dreamy flooding city, train wrecks and an untimely demise in a washing machine.

Sound confusing? Well, it is; as any good mystery should be.

Director Jonathan Margheim described the play on their website. “For me, the play is about people taking themselves too seriously. We often create stories for ourselves and sometimes these stories take over our whole lives.”

Students should let this play take over their lives, at least for a little while, and the best part is that for students it is free.

Anne Faye Hunter, as Caitlin, steals the show with her perfect impression of a starry-eyed girl. Along with the professional Mark Hennessy as the Professor, they create an air of both lunacy and loony-toons. The scenes where the professor writes in his journal under intense lights while we hear his crazy thoughts and Caitlin gleefully follows along are hilarious. Tammy Smith could be Mrs. Slater and Christian O’Shaughnessy puts on as good of a performance as he did in a similar character in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

It is good that Michael Lee (Brad), “enjoys playing crazy people,” because he is good at it, and Kristina Magnuson rounds out the motley crew as the mysterious artist.

I must have a dark sense of humor because I found both the actors and storyline consistently amusing. It felt something like a dinner-theater melodrama in an opium den; I kept waiting for a waitress to bring me either fried chicken or a really long pipe, or both.