Dallas — What if the punishment of eternal damnation wasn’t being blown by violent winds or being buried up to the neck in human excrement, but having to perform in a cabaret night club’s open mic night? So is the premise of Alexandra Tatarsky’s Beast of Festive Skin in the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theater.
Tatarsky enters the stage, not as herself, but as the devil. Immediately, Tatarsky’s movement is striking. Undulating, yet epileptic, and completely engrossing. Her devil character tells her story before introducing the open mic and opening the stage for her hordes of damned. Donning each role, only with minor voice and costume changes, she introduces the audience to a psychologist, a silent film actress, a Jewish woman who believes she’s Puerto Rican, an interesting man named Dippel, and a mound of dirt. Really. And that might be the best part for all its hilarious simplicity.
Known for the 2013 stunt in which she posed as Andy Kaufman’s daughter at the Andy Kaufman Awards in New York City, she shows here that it’s no accident she was chosen for a trick involving one of the greatest stage performers/practical jokers of all time. She is anarchic in her own delightful way and revels in going far beyond where a lot of performers would be willing to venture.
Tatarsky also proves her surrealist/futurist/absurdist merit as the show explores existential themes in a thoroughly un-clichéd way. Forced to talk about life, especially the disappointment of it, since they are in hell, is an interesting way to throw a magnifying glass on being conscious of what we do in life and thinking about what that will result in.
Her energy, though, is still the most distinctive characteristic of her performance. It is frenetic, frantic, kinetic and manic. Her sheer dedication to the madness of the piece is admirable and mesmerizing. It’s also damn funny. Or is that damned funny?
» The remaining performances of Beast of Festive Skin are:
- Sunday, May 18, 5 p.m.
» To see a full festival schedule, go here