Saturday, January 20, 2018

Meet your doom--maybe--with Split Britches at La MaMa

Above: Lois Weaver
Below: Peggy Shaw
Split Britches brings Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)
to La MaMa for its US premiere.
(photo: Matt Delbridge)

Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), a US premiere from famed lesbian theater duo Split Britches (Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw), takes inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's political satire Dr. Strangelove (1964). It works from a similar wackadoodle take on the threat of nuclear disaster within reach of itchy Twitter--I mean, trigger--fingers. A top-flight general (Shaw) is stationed by a desk and computer monitor where he keeps track of time and apparently takes calls from gal pals. Weaver, referred to by Shaw as "Madame Mr. President Sir," initially slumbers at a far curve of circled "Situation Room" tables. They communicate via landline phones, although sometimes the phone rings, it's not Weaver, and Shaw breaks into randy old pop songs.

The situation at La MaMa, then, is less tense than Shaw's tracking of the countdown clock might suggest. Yes, the show itself must finish by the end of sixty minutes, but Billy Ward and the Dominoes's "60 Minute Man" is one of those randy songs, and there seems to be plenty of time for studly Shaw to bop out to that. Yes, something must be done about the impending doom we're trying to track on confusing overhead monitors, but there's lots of time to field a council of elders from among the oldest of us in attendance. And, no, although lined up with other greyheads, I failed to make the cut.

Directed by Weaver and written by the pair with Hannah Maxwell, the show contains clever text aligned like precision-cut puzzle pieces (best delivered by saucy Shaw) and room for whatever unpredictables the elders might bring to the table. (One woman seemed obsessed with the mysterious whereabouts of one Tiffany Ariana Trump, offspring of Marla Maples and POS...oops, I mean, POTUS. Now that I think about it, Tiff does seem to have been out of the public eye for a suspiciously long time...hmmm.)

Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) is more chuckle-provoking and captivating than Kubrick--well, of course! it's lesbian!--with the additional benefit of encouraging the audience to determine not only how the play will go but also, you gotta hope, how the rest of our lives will go. Folks came up with some really good stuff!

Part of The Public Theater's now-closed Under the Radar Festival, and originally scheduled to end last weekend, Unexplode Ordnances (UXO) fortunately continues tonight, Saturday, at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm. For information and tickets, click here.

La MaMa -- Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue), Manhattan

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