Circus Porn-icus: Caligula Maximus

La MaMa picks up a dirty-minded extravaganza

Call it "The Tyrant Love Rock Musical." Or, perhaps, considering the ample display of shaved chests and pudenda, re-title it Hairless. Clearly, playwrights Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner have conceived Caligula Maximus as a freakier complement to that hirsute Broadway musical. But while their historical pageant shares Hair's plotlessness, it puts drearily aggressive sexuality in place of the hippie vibe and substitutes lackluster showtunes and uninspired covers for genuinely good songs.

Not exactly Manchester, England, England
Lia Chang
Not exactly Manchester, England, England

Details

Caligula Maximus
By Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner
La MaMa/Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street, 212-475-7710

Set in a Roman arena, Emperor Caligula (the amiable Ryan Knowles) urges everyone to embrace "masturbation/double penetration/fisting, bestiality" and numerous other delights, many of them helpfully mimed by the underclad chorus. Structured loosely as a circus performance, complete with whip-cracking ringmaster, the show introduces aerial acts, wrestling matches, and a lecture on the mating habits of bonobo chimps. Everyone struts and flexes and works terribly hard (Knowles and the naked chick with the hula hoop particularly), but for depressingly little effect. Toward the end of the play, the nubile cast circulated amid the audience, enticing them down to the stage. Though a few enthusiastic volunteers did descend, most remained unseduced. They huddled instead on the uncomfortable risers, determined to leave their freak flags furled.

 
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