Tale Waggers


A bunch of renegade wits amuse one another with intricate stories, while outside the walls of their villa society collapses. It’s hard to say exactly what Boccaccio’s Decameron is claiming: Is art a consolation for the fragility of all human institutions? Or a frivolous diversion, a way of elegantly fiddling while cities burn? In The Eaten Heart, Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen—performing as the Debate Society—stage a handful of Boccaccio’s tales. Their adaptation fills its predecessor’s jester shoes, deftly juggling its plotlines and discovering visual and verbal puns galore (Bos’s initial pothead character, for instance, prefigures a later, more literal, pot-head). Abetted by Oliver Butler’s direction and clever design work from Amanda Rehbein, Mike Riggs, Sydney Marasca, and Nathan Leigh, Bos and Thureen alternate quick changes with trancelike stillness to conjure a dozen or so characters into life within the tawdry confines of a Lynchian low-rent motel, scrambling space and time without losing clarity. But for all its vigor, the piece stays mum about the ultimate relevance of its Renaissance model. The canny juxtapositions of deceitful lovers and carefree pizza deliverers maintain an evasive air, as though Bos and Thureen were keeping the card that would reveal their motives just off the table.

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