An unkempt patriarch leads his family through a desolate landscape, dragging a large wagon that contains the family belongings, à la Mother Courage. This opening imagery in Alex Jones' futuristic dark comedy brims with contemporary resonance, evoking reflections on society's homeless population. Setting his play in an unspecified region in America after environmental damage has led to an apocalypse, Jones combines audaciously subversive humor with subtle poignancy to profound effect. Director Dámaso Rodriguez's incisive world-premiere rendition is a bold and thrillingly theatrical exploration of Jones' intriguing themes.
With the world's food supply limited to unappetizing options such as plant roots, humanity has evolved into nomadic tribes of predators (cannibals) and prey (vegetarians). The most valuable possession of a vegetarian clan -- Pa (Robert Pescovitz), Ma (Laura Raynor), and daughter Julie (Katie Davies) -- is a can of peaches. When a bizarre derelict, Blind Bastard (Dana Kelly Jr.), wanders onto the family's camp spot, presenting himself as a religious disciple, Pa foolishly shows this seemingly harmless visitor the stashed can. Bastard will do anything to get this rare delicacy for himself, including alerting a nearby cannibal tribe to the vegetarian family's whereabouts. Though Jones uses broadly comic situations to drive his story, his themes are sobering. He ponders our instinctive need for human connection, even among opponents in a desperate struggle for survival. Though bawdy dialogue and gross-out gags occasionally lapse into overkill, these devices are effective in delineating the crudity of this emotionally damaged society.
The ensemble work is impeccable. Kelly is splendid as the mad wanderer -- a hilarious amalgam of Don Quixote and one of those bombastic television evangelists. As mismatched lovers, Davies evokes raucous hilarity with her sex-starved virgin, and Shawn Lee is equally fine as her suitor from the wrong side of the tracks -- a cannibal tribe. Guess who's coming to dinner? Or who will be dinner? Libby West's boisterous take on the hell-raising Heather, an insatiable carnivore, is at once funny and fearsome. Excelling in other roles are Pescovitz, Raynor, Nick Cernoch, and Eric Pargac. Stunningly surrealistic design elements and Brian Danner's masterful fight choreography add to the realization of Jones' thought-provoking vision.
Presented by the Furious Theatre Company at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre,
39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena.
Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Oct. 6-Nov. 10.
(800) 595-4849. www.furioustheatre.org.