By Paul Atreides
Author, playwright Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
Hurts so good, Hurts so bad
If only fools are kind, Alfie - Burt Bacharach
Vegas Theatre Company kicks off the 23-24 season and joins forces with Las Vegas Horror Show to bring a psychological debauchery to the stage for October.
Written by Robert Bullwinkle, Abel Horwitz, and Jana Wimer, under the direction of Wimer, The Marquis de Sade presents Abandon is a collection of short – some extremely short – vignettes of the kind that may leave you a bit…aghast? That’s the point.
For the uninformed, the Marquis de Sade (Donatien Alphonse François) was a French writer in the late 1700s and known for his libertine novels. He was also imprisoned in an asylum for his sadistic sex crimes and pornography.
Starting with some very fun and funny things in the lobby before the house opens, it’s more an experience than a play. But don’t expect that to transfer onto the stage because, for the most part, the humor gets left in the lobby.
A very capable cast of ten headed by Josh Berg as the Marquis takes on the many macabre, sadistic, and kinky imaginings. While the majority of the sketches are sexual in nature, there is no nudity (prosthetics are used) and any sexual acts are mimed. In fact, except for a single repeating line of dialogue by the Marquis, the entirety is mime. You might think of this as an over-the-top Zumanity by Cirque du Soliel.
It took quite a while to find any real connection or throughline to the pieces. Better staging could have brought a clearer picture. The Marquis is placed at a desk down right and isn’t really noticed until the Cardinal (Mickey Roarke) confiscates the writing. By placing the Marquis on the upstage center platform he could gleefully watch his diabolical imagination play out.
Except for the Cardinal’s clergy cap which is a modern-day Zuchetto, the uncredited period costumes and wigs are well-thought.
Though occasionally too loud, there’s a wonderful original score by Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring) and a delectable Sound Design by Katie Halliday (Stranger Things) that add greatly to the atmosphere. But the lighting (uncredited), while effective overall, is too dark in places and a large number of scenarios are so fleeting that they’re completely lost.
It all ends abruptly with Roarke stripping off his scarlet robe and Zuchetto to reveal a bustier, garter and stockings to transport everything to a 1970s discotheque where the entire cast joins in for dancing and bows.
Paring this down to a more cohesive set of lengthier situations and proper staging would greatly improve the experience.
The production is rated R (NC-17) due to violence, grisly images and sexual situations.
What: Marquis de Sade presents Abandon
When: 7:00 p.m and 9:00 pm Oct 5 - 31
Where: 1025 S. 1st St., Suite 110
Tickets: $25 - $85
Grade: ** Still Hungry