By Aaron Calvin
On Tuesday night, something strange occurred in a fourth-floor walk-up in SoHo. This happened to be where The Access Theater takes residence, and after being buzzed up, the audience can take their seats. That night, the theater was home to The Hyper Aware Theater Company and a double dose of Durang.
The first of these was The Actor's Nightmare. It opened with a man named George who becomes inexplicably involved in a series of plays that he has never rehearsed for, and doesn't know any of the lines to. This unraveled into a series of painfully stressful interactions by the hapless George and the actors around him. The play moved tangentially through Hamlet, Samuel Beckett and Thomas Moore. The play was well paced and the actor's created a generally relatable scenario, even for non-actors.
After a brief intermission, the stranger of the two plays got under way. Titanic opens with two families aboard everyone's favorite yet-to-be-sunken ship: the captain and his daughter, and a couple with their son, Teddy. However, this isnt't exactly the James Cameron story the general public is familiar with. This is the Christopher Durang story. While beginning fairly placidly, the story soon erupts into an absurdist affair to the very height of everything that unreasonable. The captain's daughter ends up being three different people at the same time, while having a fetish for sticking animals into her vagina, including a hedgehog, a seagull and a family of hamsters. The captain chases one of the women around wearing a helmet with a dildo attached to it. Twice, the characters think they are sinking when, really, the captain's wife had just put on a sound effects tape.
The whole adventure involved a lot of self-awareness and sexuality. While rather inaccessible and unpalatable at first, once the viewers adapt themselves to Titanic, they see what lies beneath the zany and absurdist antics. Every once in a while, the play shows its darker side. The cast does a good job of managing the wilder aspects, while allowing the unexpected sadness to shine through. However, even the playwright admits that the play is in some ways a "strange dream you'd like to be over sooner than it actually gets over."
Both acts are entertaining, while simultaneously constructive. If nothing else, these back-to-back Durang pieces provided, if nothing else, an interesting night out to the theater.