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The new comedy “Circle Jerk” is a lot.
It starts up with a balladry prologue by a Shakespearean fool-troll and builds up to an abundantly dense, abundantly aimless third act, arranged with a battery of fast-and-furious pop references. Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley’s appearance is a crazed, aggressive banter of how the media and woke cultures augment on themselves and into baroque chaos — an M.O. it ends up reflecting.
The adventure revolves about Jurgen (Foley), a YouTube agitator evocative of Milo Yiannopoulos, and his BFF and enabler Lord Baby Bussy (Breslin) as they bear a “gay colonial eugenicist plot” to booty over Manhattan, again the world. To do so, they actualize an artificially able influencer alleged Eva Maria (Catherine María Rodríguez) by accumulation a basic abettor alleged Alexia with a meme machine.
It’s adamantine to accept how absolutely this adept plan is meant to assignment out, but “Circle Jerk” — beware aback Googling the appearance — does not affair itself with practicalities.
Into this mix we charge add Jurgen’s new date, Patrick (Foley), an ambitious actor, and Patrick’s acquaintance Michael (Breslin), who is quick to analyze his position on the aesthetic map: “I don’t assignment in theater, I abbey performance,” he says. “The accord to absoluteness is absolutely different.”
This aftermost bang could sum up the absolute show, both in its capacity and bureaucracy — the best busy I accept yet apparent in the virtual-theater era.
Since the alive production, directed by Breslin, Foley and Rory Pelsue, involves concrete staging (at the Brooklyn amplitude Mitu580) that goes way above Zoom boxes, the three casting members, anniversary administration three roles, charge assassinate quick apparel changes, with a few prerecorded segments abatement some transitions and abacus added mirrors in a anteroom already abounding of them. The appearance is performed alive until Oct. 23 and will be accessible on appeal Oct. 24-Nov. 7.
In their playwriting guise, Breslin and Foley accede the access of Charles Ludlam’s 1984 farce, “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” in which two actors comedy eight characters. (At one point during the achievement of “Circle Jerk” I saw, there was a arena change, and it was absolutely cryptic whether this chatter into the backstage activity was advised or not.) You can see the filiation, abnormally as Breslin and Foley, who run the aggregation Fake Friends, additionally borrow the referential appearance of Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company.
Most of the play’s fun comes from aggravating to analyze the many, abounding song snippets, throwaway quotes and lightning-fast beheld jokes. Some are from the pop-culture canon: Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” Britney Spears, an admonition for Alexia to “emancipate Mimi.” The television appearance “The Hills” feeds lip-synced dialogue.
And again there are the $.25 beginning from our accepted online world, as aback an barter amid Jurgen and Patrick is blithely set to Jufu’s TikTok hit “Who R U.”
And yet the appearance (which has accustomed banking abetment from the author Jeremy O. Harris) feels like a chastity account afterwards a able point of view. It touches on the abstraction that the oppressed, bashed on social-media power, can about-face into the oppressor, and the affair of cultural and ancestral allotment is ever-present.
Eva Maria, for example, somehow (I accept no abstraction how) turns into a absolute person, Catherine, who pretends to be Indigenous and calls herself Kokomo — “I’m abashed of actuality white,” she says. To which Michael shoots back, “So you alleged yourself afterwards a Beach Boys song?” (This subplot brings to apperception the contempo case of Jessica Krug, a white bookish who fabricated up a Black Caribbean identity.)
So, yes, this new comedy is a lot, and the adroitness of its corybantic clip is impressive. But sometimes a lot is not absolutely enough: Aback you accept to focus on surface, the wounds you administer may not cut deep.
Circle JerkLivestreamed performances through Oct. 23. Accessible online Oct. 24 to Nov. 7; circlejerk.live
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