Jack DiFalco and Zane Pais in “Mercury Fur.”
This is your brain on butterflies — and it’s not pretty.
In the tense but hollow “Mercury Fur,” the delicate insects have morphed into hallucinogenic drugs with Crayola-creative names and unsettling effects.
Swallow a “two-tone blue” and your heart will pound out of your chest. Wash down a “red-with-silver-stripes” and visions of political assassinations fog your brain. Munch a “mauve-and-midnight-blue” and every suicidal thought you’ve had will be summoned with deadly consequences. Fatal beauty — with wings.
So it goes in the upside-down future dystopia imagined by British playwright Philip Ridley. The setting was London when the play ran there in 2005. Now it’s a nightmare New York. Gangs maraud, rape and kill in grocery stores. People’s memories are a confused jumble. Forget about finding a Starbucks.
Led by enterprising drug dealer Elliot (an affecting Zane Pais), a group that includes his kid brother Darren (Jack DiFalco), gender-bending Lola (Paul Iacono) and scary Spinx (Sea McHale) survives by hosting shindigs in abandoned buildings (evocative work by set designer Derek McLane).
Naz (Tony Revolori), who lives nearby, helps put out nuts, beer, candles and a sharp meat hook to be used by a guest (Peter Mark Kendall) for gruesome fantasies with a captive kid (Bradley Fong).
At this particular gathering, the group hopes the guest will give info that will help everyone escape an impending annihilation. But that doesn’t explain away earlier snuff parties. It’s just part of this big, bad world.
In the end, Ridley’s bleak view — love child of “A Clockwork Orange” and the pay-for-slay horror flick “Hostel” — stirs but doesn’t challenge or illuminate.
Director Scott Elliott’s production for the New Group has its moments and a very fine cast. Spinx’s jibber-jabbering blind friend, Duchess (Emily Cass McDonnell), lends some lightness. Joni Mitchell’s lilting, melancholy “All I Want,” a song in which love and hate are forever intertwined, plays during a moment of butchery — an inspired call.
The play’s lasting takeaway: Those trippy butterflies.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.