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666 – Off Broadway Theater Review




picture - 666Theater Review

by Cindy Pierre 

published April 18, 2010 



now playing Off Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theater


Has theatre gone dumb?  That may be your first thought if you're a patron of Yllana theater troupe's 666, but you'll quickly find out that theatre has gone slapstick and sensationalist to the extreme with this often offensive, rarely hilarious, but superbly staged production of one of Spain's weirdest.  Back from a successful run at 2009's NY Fringe Festival, 666 once again brings its interpretation of Commedia del Arte to the stage with enough creepiness and shock value to last for days.


Set in a jail far worse than Sing Sing, four death row inmates in prison oranges grunt and gesture through the motions of incarcerated life while trying hard to make us laugh. And sometimes, they manage to succeed, but not by expected means.


It's not the characterizations.  Although Raul Cano's Tim Conway gait, Joseph Michael O'Curneen's Sling Blade mannerisms, Fidel Fernandez' Geoffrey-Rush-in-a-jockstrap (literally) looks, and Juan Ramos Toro's electrocution boogie are all recognizable and meant to tickle your funny bone, they're derivative.  Same goes for the Three Stooges-gone-gross antics.  While you're anticipating a “Hey Moe!” at any time, you're watching four adult men who use fake urine as a prop participate in childish pranks and silly gags for the better part of 70 minutes.


And it's not the taste level.  There are enough sacrilegious moments (hence the title),  a gas chamber scene that's mildly anti-semitic if you tie that with the songs by the German band Rammstein (accused of having Nazi ideals and being fascist) at the opening, and downright disgusting segments to make you cringe if you're religious and turn your stomach if you're squeamish.  If you're neither, there are still elements that will prevent you from joining the peals of laughter from the audience that seem to be timed to every juvenile antic happening onstage.  Most of the comedy appeals to your basest instincts, foregoing any intellectual challenge or thought.


The funny is in the outlandish way in which these run of the mill stereotypes are presented.  You'll be laughing not at the content, but at the boldness used to undertake them. Marry the boldness with a few well-conceived skits such as a montage of killing sprees and you have a recipe for sporadic but genuine laughter. It's within these well-crafted skits that the actors, who all have good comedic timing, flourish.  David Ottone's sharp direction is also instrumental in helping the performance unravel without a hitch by creating seamless segues from one sketch to another.  But these shining moments don't deter from everything else that's either questionable, gaudy, or unoriginal.


Though wonderfully staged, most of 666 is only as funny as fake vomit, even if it tries to be as “funny as hell.”  If you prefer to leave your brain at home and feed the animal in you, you're likely to laugh, even if it's out of nervousness.  But if you like your comedy with a little more innovation and intelligence and far less insult to sensitivities, you'd better stay out of the pit.


cindypierre @


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