Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter: The Theater of Screech
According to music lore, the infamous heavy metal shredder Yngwie Malmsteen, when asked by an ear-fried studio tech to tone down the sonic blitz, said the following (it helps to imagine a Nordic accent): Less is not more. More is more.
Derek Ahonen, of the Amoralists, subscribes to the more is more theory of playwriting: More shouting (his characters run the gamut of human feeling from A to A); more objectionable ethnic stereotypes crowding the stage like a weird zoo of racial slurs; more puerile plot contortions; more dopey one-liners (Are babies smarter than cats?). And the results are as lame, narcissistic, and headache-inducing as the screechiest, most interminable guitar solo.
With his new play, Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter, which he also directs, Ahonen seems to have been inspired to write a rebuttal to The Kids Are All Right (call it Nobodys All Right). The premise resembles the setup for a skeezy joke: So theres this lesbian couple. One of them is black (we know that because shes so dignified and long-suffering). The other is Jewish (we know that because shes a soused, whiny pain-in-the-ass who threatens to kill herself every second minute). They have a daughter whos an 18-year-old cannibal serial killer.
Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter
Written and directed by Derek Ahonen
150 First Avenue
And away we go: The black lesbian has a long-lost half brother. He raped her when they were kids. Hes HIV-positive. He comes to find her because he needs money for meds. They have an incestuous child somewhere out there. Oh, no, wait, theres more: The couples daughter is actually not a serial killer. She was working for the government, creating a hot scandal to confuse the masses. She decides to move to Israel because she hates America (this is also why she talks in a British accent).
If all this sounds like an enjoyably arch B-movie romp, poking fun at the very idea of plotits not. Remember the shouting (and the crying). The actors think theyre competing in the Method Olympics. The plays genre is up for grabs: Its either the unfunniest live sitcom in town or the most risible serious family drama. Whichever way you go, its the longest, shrillest almost-two hours in the theater youre likely to spend.
When the worlds most bigoted Southern fundamentalist pictures New York City, this is probably what he imagines. It doesnt take a lot of guts to just heave a bunch of un-PC clichés onstage and then congratulate yourself for busting taboos.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in New York.