Pontiac Firebird Variations Drives Into the Ice Factory
Act One, Scene Four of Richard III is pretty dramatic. The Duke of Clarencetreacherous Richards brotherlanguishes in the Tower of London, imprisoned by Richard himself. Soon, the tyrants hit men arrive to kill Clarencebut first, they must silence their own consciences, quelling sudden fears of eternal damnation.
Pontiac Firebird Variations, Casey Wimpees adaptation (now at the Ice Factory Festival), stages this hemming and hawing repeatedly, minus the rest of the playan entertaining concept that gets old fast. Wimpees War of the Roses unfolds in 1980s Queens, where mafiosos fight the Cola Wars (the Lancasters imbibe Coke; the Yorks, Pepsi). Clarencehere a cutoffs-clad sis named Clareis held hostage in a chop shop, where she endures a near-endless series of near-assassination scenes.
Wimpees revisions fixate on the local (shout-outs to the BQE) and the quirky: His murderers give massages and devour Happy Meals. Live musiciansCharles Yang on violin and Cryin Ryan Dorin on pianogleefully juxtapose Bach with Bon Jovi, lending the proceedings a cheerful ambiance.
But as killers and their moral crises accumulate, meaning drains away. These variations dont deepen the Bards scenariothey just embellish it with tough-guy talk and soda jokes. Call it Shakespeare Zero: Wimpees concoction, initially sweet and effervescent, delivers an unsatisfying taste in the end.
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