Consolidated Works, 381-3218. Through June 23.
Why? Why? Why? has everything needed to ensure a successful night of play-going except good air circulation. Set up in a stifling, claustrophobic, four-sided, cube-shaped "tent" with an Arabian-style padded floor and pillows for seating, the entire production passes in shadows and projections on the walls and ceiling. It's like a more imaginative--and more sexed-up--version of campfire shadow-puppetry.
Or, alternatively, it's like being placed inside director and playwright Scot Augustson's fertile and overheated mind, which may explain the lack of air flow. Augustson's mind is crowded with eccentric characters, as evidenced by his previous foray into shadow puppetry, Sgt. Rigsby and His Amazing Silhouettes. But where the Sgt. Rigsby cast is pulled from Victoriana, the cast of Why? Why? Why? is made up of figures from Greek mythology. Wrenched through Augustsonian rewrite, these Gods and mortals become visions of Monty-Python-like scatological sublimity. In the Greece of Why? Why? Why?, when Troilus and Achilles meet in battle, they are inconveniently attracted to one another, and Achilles woos Troilus by phoning him up and crooning Bruce Springsteen lyrics. Gods appear as crudely drawn cartoons, looking like something a drunken classics professor might have sketched on a cocktail napkin the night before; they reappear, often, as silhouettes cast by real actors, and the combination works to clever comic effect.
One reason it works is that Augustson directs his real-life actors to display themselves with a formal elegance, cocking arms just so, keeping profiles prettily in line--and then he pulls the ground from beneath this formalism by having the actors deliver a line about sodomy in an Australian accent. He is ably aided by his cast memers, who not only display excellent comic timing (with a few exceptions in the final scenes), but also much of their birthday suits (in shadow, of course).
If anyone doubted it, Why? Why? Why? proves that Augustson has found his niche in the peculiar jibe between outrageous humor and faceless shadows. Now, if he can just do something about the air flow. [Editorial note: Consolidated Works swears that fans were installed immediately after opening night.]