A show like Dario D’Ambrosi’s Bong Bong Bong Against the Walls, Ting Ting Ting in Our Heads is essentially critic-proof. Even Addison DeWitt might feel compelled to bite his forked tongue before condemning the efforts of a world theater fixture who has spent more than three decades giving empathic voice to the mentally ill.
As one anguished mother (Theresa Linnihan) implores about the trio of tormented youths whose cuckoo’s-nest meanderings make up the bulk of the play, “What if, instead of judging them, you look a little deeper?” Fair enough. Here are a few thoughts on D’Ambrosi’s latest visit to La MaMa:
• The sight of grown-ups playing mentally compromised children is only slightly more off-putting than the sight of grown-ups playing healthy children.
• The origami frogs that the actors pluck from inside one another’s shirts to symbolize the liberation of the indomitable human spirit appear to be very well folded.
• The explosions of wet-chinned hysteria by the three performers in question (Celeste Moratti, Philip James, and the winning Ashley C. Williams) are relatively brief.
• Aurora Buzzetti’s sets and Bunraku-style puppets offer their share of austere diversions, even when the surrounding action is murky and unfocused.
• The show—puppets, chest frogs, bombastic Christian De Gre score, and all—is over in less than an hour.