Trappakeepa & Girth

Local Arts Reviews

Trappakeepa & Girth

Austin Playhouse, through April 17

Running time: 1 hr

There are three things worth noting about Gypsy Baby productions' premiere of this ostensible comedy written by Lindsay Kayser and directed by Susie Williams. Let's name them in order and have done with it.

1) The title is a wonderful title. Evocative. Unusual. Mind-catching and fun for one's tongue. Who wouldn't like a show that's called Trappakeepa & Girth? (We'll get to that answer later.)

2) Signage. The signage that abounds in the mall where the narrative's action takes place is re-created onstage, hung on the walls to note the location of each brief scene. In other words, to place the title of the location in the location itself isn't the slightest cop-out, isn't a lackluster gambit visited upon an audience by a lazy set designer by way of making up for a flawed script; rather, it's the most authentic re-creation possible. And this fact partakes of so many resonances with postmodern literary and artistic schools of thought that it can keep one's mind occupied for hours after one has left the theatre. Why, to merely recall, thus spurred, the scene in Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint where the sign for the food stand dematerializes in front of our legitimately paranoid protagonist's very eyes ... but I digress.

3) The turtles. There is a scene, which is the best thing about the entire diversion, in which two actors, costumed as turtles, crawl onstage and engage, sweetly and ever so briefly, in an act of reptilian coitus. Seriously. No one is kidding you here. And that this scene was so unexpected, and yet fit in so naturally with the rest of the narrative, and was handled so elegantly and hilariously, is almost enough to make one not regret the rest of the time spent watching this effort in the smaller of the two Austin Playhouse venues. The operative word of the day: almost.

Aside from the items listed above, this reviewer found nothing to enjoy about what was rendered upon the unfortunate stage. A story that could have been done well – about an online relationship that moves offline and thus meets with a few caperish twists – was done poorly. The actors, aside from those in turtle-time, were hardly worthy of the name, but even they were qualitatively leagues beyond the script and its tin-eared dialogue, its non sequitur leaps of action, its – look, I don't even want to think about it, OK? I'd rather think about joining a preteen chatroom based on discussions – yeah, right – about what happened in the first five episodes of Friends.

And I wouldn't want to think about that at all.

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Trappakeepa & Girth, Gypsy Baby Productions, Lindsay Kayser, Susie Williams, Philip K. Dick, Time Out of Joint

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