The House of Von Macramé Cuts Itself with Clichés


Actors, beware the curtain call that requires you to wade through puddles of blood. So treacherous is the Bushwick Starr’s stage at the end of The House of Von Macramé—a new musical spoofing slasher flicks and the fashion industry, created by theater troupe The Management—that the cast must skitter and lurch across pools of gooey red gore to take their bows.

Unfortunately, the rest of Von Macramé is an equally wet mess. We follow runway novice Britt Greenpoint (Rochelle Smith) as she skyrockets to stardom—the same week that a ruthless executioner dubbed the Lipstick Killer butchers a season’s worth of models. Shrieks pierce the air. Gore spurts from unsuspecting fashionistas. Lurking mysteriously at the heart of this high-couture world is Edsel von Macramé (Paul Pecorino), a preening, lace-clad mogul whose gross-out designs (barf-crusted jumpsuit, “vagina jeggings”) unexpectedly made him king of the clothing pile. Von Macramé craves Britt as his newest muse, but she can’t tell whether he’s leading her to cover-girl glory—or into the business end of a steak knife.

The real star of this runway isn’t Britt, though—it’s costume designer Tristan Raines’s quirky stylings. Raines assembles lots of spandex and studs, but also some enticingly odd concoctions—a model’s hat is topped with a Snickers bar, dangling just out of reach; a plastic nose drips green goo down a delicate neckerchief.

The ensemble is dressed to kill, but the rest of this musical is sadly dead on arrival. Von Macramé began as a late-night serial, and it’s easy to see how it could have been entertaining in brief: A platform heel here, a disemboweling there, with enough bit characters to supply boundless rivers of blood. As a two-and-a-half-hour musical though, it’s long and belabored, laden with extraneous ditties and self-satisfied winking, and boasting few surprising plot twists. The jokes—familiar camp moves, taken to cringe-worthy heights—rarely made me smile. Despite the endless impaling of models, the piece doesn’t skewer anything actually funny.