Wednesday, January 8, 2014

COIL Festival: Mac Wellman's "Muazzez" opens at The Chocolate Factory

Actor Steve Mellor sits at a small table and gazes at the audience with his doughy, oblong face and initially deadpan expression and begins to spill a torrent of words. This verbal current flows fast, faster, fastest without cease--miraculously, without tongue-twisting--and, at times, will rise to a level of dark bitterness. That Mellor--occupying The Chocolate Factory's earthly space as well as imagined interstellar space strewn with asteroids--introduces himself as an "abandoned cigar factory" with "a zygodactyly foot" is only part of the fun of Muazzez, a 45-minute monologue derived from short stories by known word wizard Mac Wellman.

"There's no drift to my thought," Mellor/Wellman tells us. "My thought is a rooted thing." Sure. No drift but definitely a well-greased sci-fi sequence on the move and speeding you along with it, scrambling your brain along with Wellman's mythopoetic play and scramble of words. We're invited to envision the high Eulalians of whom nothing is known except that they "builded" the cigar factories. We learn of the "primal radial symmetry" of "a series of spokes or spokey type spindles radiating from a deep and frosty central secret," which sounds kid of tasty. There are "non-self hedges and the hegemony of the self's perfect picture of the world" and something Wellman calls the "ambulatory frightwig of unappetizing complication," which strikes me as a useful insult to hurl at the next person to cross me. Yeah.

I am completely won over by this "succession a stratigraphic variorum," this "placing of jars and jarring of places" and Mellor's virtuoso performance that charges and populates nearly bare space with the high Eulalian magic(k) of words.

COIL Festival co-presentation of Performance Space 122 and The Chocolate Factory, Muazzez runs through January 17. For complete schedule and ticketing details, click here.

The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens

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