In the Chinese Astrological Calendar next year is the Year of the Rat. We have Buntport Theatre to thank for giving us an early preview and a chance to see 2020 through the lens of their new and original play, UNIVERSE 92.
In this work a rodent is observed by three animal behaviorists, who record the animal’s every twitch.
Brian Colonna gives a luminous performance as Rat. In the paws of a less talented actor the role might have been cheesier.
The three behavioral scientists are played by the other three comic geniuses over at Buntport: Erin Rollman (Dr. Lorelei MacGuire,) Erik Edborg, (Dr. Frank Calhan) and Hannah Duggan (Pamela Hamilton.)
It’s a bit of a spin on 1984 as in this production Rat sorta kinda maybe has one Big Brother and two Big Sisters who watch over him from the lofty heights of their scientific perch in order to observe his movements and record them in their analytic research.
The celery brought in to feed the rat at the performance at which this reviewer was present was just not enough nourishment for a rat that size. You may, as this reviewer did, feel that the rat could have probably used a few more snacks. If one were to criticize the production at all, he might say that there was little realism in the aromatic sensing of the rat by us as audience. (Perhaps the crew cleans the rat cage between performances.)
There is a wonderfully creative use of cardboard for the set and for the bottom of the rat cage! (The newspaper used for sanitary purposes seemed to be especially absorbent and may explain the lack of rat odor. One can only imagine that they must be old reviews from the Denver Post and/or The Thrifty Nickel.)
Except for the fact that the rat is made to watch sitcoms on television while lying in his hammock, he/it is treated mostly humanely throughout. Making a rat watch television and then critique it with however many stars makes one aware of the perils of critics writing reviews from the couch. But I digress.
True, the rat is lazy, but it’s always being watched just as Orwell puts forth in 1984. It’s not being given any incentive to find work or even to exercise.
One feels sad for a rat being forced to lie in a hammock doing nothing for all its life except self-pleasuring and judging new contraptions – presumably from Amazon- that are introduced into its world by self-adulating scientists who misidentify and misapply the tried and true methodology of animal research.
At one point in the production a robotic vacuum cleaner – “the sad Roomba” – is introduced into the scenario. Perhaps this may have been a bit ‘de trop’ since the random patterning of its (the roomba’s) search for debris seemed mostly unsuccessful.
UNIVERSE 92 is silly and just plain fun.
Scamper to get tickets.
Scamper to get tickets.
Buntport Theatre is located at 717 Lipan Street, Denver,CO.80204
Call 720-946-1388 or go online at Buntport.com