Cucuzza’s latest theatrical acid trip, Speed Freaks, takes place in the cramped headquarters of Paw-Paw’s Famous Canned Peas. As head honcho of this rogue company, Ivan (played with demented, maniacal wit
by the author himself) has schemed to pump a narcotic gas into his product, which has turned it into the number one seller. The drug, though, has been responsible for a rash of suicides— people jumping off their roofs after experiencing
a bad batch of the vegetable. Apparently, the “chef” has been turning out a “pure”
version of the recipe, a discovery that terrifies everyone except the boss, whose fiendish sexual appetite relies on increasingly heavy doses of the stuff.
Molly (Laura Kachergus), the pert young blond assistant, and Jacob (Ryan Bronz), the Amish flunky, are routinely
ordered to aid their captain
in his ongoing attempt to
“explode all over himself.” In between puffs of his “private stock,” musical entertainers are brought in for him to strangle. This erotic routine typically culminates in Ivan’s masturbatory cry, “Tell me you need
my ass,” though no amount of validation (or even hacked-up body parts) can get the poor guy off anymore.
Heavily indebted to Richard Foreman’s performance
aesthetic, Cucuzza’s work
runs riot in a similarly self-
contained way. The rules of his world certainly aren’t obvious, though they have a logic, no matter how sinister or depraved. If only the piece had more
conscious depth, perhaps the cartoon violence wouldn’t have been so enervating. As the
actors get bumped and slapped and thrown to the ground, the frenzied enactment of druggie reality simply goes up in smoke.