I suspected it would happen eventually, but I never thought my first time sitting in a room full of people watching a man being sodomized on stage with a 12-foot pole would be in Texas. Thanks to the Fuse Box performance festival in Austin (where I've been for the last few days) for the surprise.
The poling (with a dildo on the end, theatrically slathered in Crisco) came courtesy of the Rubber Repertory, an Austin company. The rest of the show, Mr. Z Loves Company, was unfortunately thin, a dirty but repetitive vaudeville. (They're salacious! They're eating fake poop! They're kuh-raaaaaazy!) It was Marquis de Sade lite, with the actors (the pervy Mr. Z and his "naughty maids") building little sex machines and playing organs in minor keys. They went for quick and easy titters and they got them—but nothing more.
A better Rubber Rep show, apparently, was last year's Casket of Passing Fancy, in which the company offered an audience of 30 different "experiences." People would raise their hands when they heard an offer they liked: "Who would like to go on a road trip to Mexico leaving right now?" "Who would like to be blindfolded and dropped off in a part of town they don't know?" "Who would like to have his or her name tattooed on this actor's ass?" "Who would like to experience 'magical thinking'?" (That offer landed one game critic in a locked bathroom for two hours while she listened to her friend, who accepted a different "experience," arguing with three actors about why she shouldn't feel obliged to give them her underwear.)
The show happened last fall, but people keep bringing it up—it left a deep impression in the town's memory.
Best in show at the Festival so far: the Rude Mechs—another Austin company—with The Method Gun, an awesomely tragic and occasionally goofy show about a 1970s acting guru named Stella Burden. She disappeared, but her company soldiered on, rehearsing their experimental production of A Streetcar Named Desire for nine years: a production of Streetcar without the characters Stanley, Blanche, Stella, or Mitch. Just everyone else.
Theater about theater, like writing about writing, is usually a solipsistic disaster. I assumed The Method Gun would be a chore.
I've never been more wrong. (Again.)
Plus, it stars this tiger.
Somebody had better bring this show to Seattle.