Thus Spake Foreman

Sarah Louise Lilley and Gary Wilmes in Bad Boy Nietzsche!: Taking pains to take the cake
photo: Paula Court
Sarah Louise Lilley and Gary Wilmes in Bad Boy Nietzsche!: Taking pains to take the cake


Bad Boy Nietzsche!
By Richard Foreman
Ontological at St. Marks
Second Avenue and 10th Street

Since Nietzsche's theories went into the can of mixed nuts that served as Hitler's brain, there is some byplay with a prop loaf of "holy bread" that our hero says contains "jewels," which The Beautiful Lady mishears as "Jews," triggering a discussion about whether it's permissible to eat bread containing Jews or not; the silent scholars reappear at one point during this wearing ostentatious yellow stars. What with Jörg Haider making headlines every day, the sight gives the piece a topical chill unusual for Foreman. But to call Bad Boy Nietzsche! a "political" piece would be no more accurate than to call it a philosophic drama or a biography. It's just what happened to Richard Foreman's inner awareness while thinking about Nietzsche. If Foreman sees himself, or Nietzsche, as a "bad boy" for straying from the point, or for having highly theatrical fantasies of sex and violence (and the punishment that inevitably follows) when he ought to be thinking sequentially—well, Nietzsche strove to get beyond exactly those categories of good and bad. Failing, he sank into insanity, the pathos and horror of which Foreman's surreal variety stage optimally conveys. The evening's real triumph is not that it informs you about Nietzsche, but that it makes you want to inform yourself. As a result of my seeing it, I probably will read some Nietzsche. And I will almost certainly think, while doing so, about the strange bedlam of noises and visions, of lust and pain and frenzy, that Foreman has perpetrated in his name. His performers, eager and precise as always, make up an exceptionally solid and appealing ensemble this time around: Gary Wilmes, Sarah Louise Lilley, Kevin Hurley, and Juliana Francis, with Hurley's acidic deadpan adding a fresh flavor to the proceedings.

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