|Julie Atlas Muz as Beauty|
At rear, Mat Fraser as The Beast,
flanked by Jonny Dixon (l) and Jess Mabel Jones
(photo by Sin Bozkurt)
with puppeteers Dixon and Jones
(photo by Sheila Burnett)
Muz, former beauty queen and a multi-talented artist best-known for neo-burlesque, and Fraser, a British actor, writer and rock musician, are a married couple who met and fell in love when they were Coney Island sideshow performers and married to other people. Fraser, whose mom took Thalidomide for morning sickness, has the congenital deformation phocomelia with, in his case, missing forearms and thumbs. When these two artists dreamed up a collaborative project, "Beauty and the Beast" immediately sprung to mind. But because they are who they are--both kickass provocateurs, one whose visible disability has long been integral to his art--this "Beauty and the Beast" would have to be a "Beauty and the Beast" like no other.
And so it is.
A very sexy "Beauty and the Beast," indeed, with frequent, matter-of-fact nudity, erotic food play and joyous sexual simulation where even paper puppets get it on. And a hilarious "Beauty and the Beast" in which Muz's sharp talent for comedy--along with Jonny Dixon and Jess Mabel Jones's skillful, innovative puppetry--give extra dimension and brightness to every scene. And a tender "Beauty and the Beast" which, without hesitation, welcomes us into the love that this couple shares. I don't believe I have ever seen this much love (genuine love) in a work on stage.
So, if you think all that might be too much to handle, stay home...or, go anyway, take a chance and see if it changes you.
Directed by Phelim McDermott (Satyagraha, Shockheaded Peter) of the British theater troupe, Improbable
Beauty and the Beast runs through March 30. For information and tickets, click here.
Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street), Manhattan
Of related interest
Access All Areas--Live Art & Disability (NYC edition), a free, all-day event looking at some of the radical approaches to the representation of disability by contemporary performance artists.
March 29, 10-6pm at Abrons Arts Center
For information, click here.