Turkey Cock, Frankenstein, and Fur Hats: Welcome to Avant-Garde Festival January

A review roundup of shows in Under the Radar, Coil, and more

Have Radiohole read Walden? If you’ve drunk your way through the Brooklyn troupe’s shows at their Collapsable Hole space, where they specialize in the greasy and the gross out, you might hesitate to describe them as particularly literary. Yet, 2001’s Wurst provided an unusually lively rendering of the Nibelungenlied and 2006’s Fluke attempted a staging of Moby Dick. For the Coil fest, they’ve taken on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After a brief, mocking symposium discussing what drew them to the novel, Radiohole get on with the chaotic content of the show—a riff on the story and its author, which includes pneumatic hats, exploding pregnancies, a cooking show demonstration of how to make brains, and numerous homages to The Rocky Horror Show and '70s-era creature features. It’s all staged at the Kitchen with Radiohole’s eccentric use of tech—from iPhone cams to sewing machines. Does it work? Does it encapsulate Frankenstein? Well, not really. But it seems stingy to quibble in the presence of so much slimy delight and delirium.

As any video long since glimpsed in health class tells you, creation—of life, of art—is a messy, oozy business. The results don’t always call for ovation and cigars. If the work at the January festivals are uneven, it was also a neat rejoinder to those who keep predicting the death of theater and performance. It may be frustrating, head-scratching, and sometimes very sticky, but make no mistake: It’s alive.

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