Our Motto: Be Depraved

'I Am Alpha' takes a darkly satirical look at a certain all-American youth group

Our Motto: Be Depraved

If there's a cooler moniker for an Austin theatre troupe than "Loaded Gun Theory," I've yet to run across it. "Rude Mechanicals" comes close, but anyone familiar with theatre knows what they're getting when they hear the phrase "Rude Mechanicals." If you could trademark the name of a theatre troupe, you'd want something fanciful, arbitrary, and/or suggestive, and while "Loaded Gun Theory" may be somewhat fanciful and arbitrary, it's most certainly suggestive.

"Suggestive" is a decent way of describing I Am Alpha, the latest effort from playwright Travis Holmes, a founding member of Loaded Gun Theory. "Blatant" is even better. The story centers on Sean, a rather decadent member of a certain youth organization intended to instill wholesome values in growing boys. He's going for the organization's ultimate badge – think bird of prey, white head, symbol of freedom – but has to contend with the adult "master" of his troop, the perverted Dick. Sean and Dick have a history, and it isn't a positive one. Through the course of the play, Sean beds Dick's wife; Dick has an S&M relationship with his senior patrol leader, Tony (who calls Dick "little scout"); a girl member beats a homeless man to death with a baseball bat she keeps in a sheath slung on her shoulder; and a cat gets tortured in a variety of ways. Actually, "blatant" doesn't even do it justice.

"If the play is about anything," says Holmes, "it's about how some of the activities in youth organizations aren't nice and wholesome and good and in fact how the people involved are motivated to accomplish things in order to humiliate other people. I wouldn't necessarily call it a political play, but I guess in a sense it is. Some things that are all-American are ugly underneath. Sometimes American values aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be. America is built on stolen land by people who were forced to build it. I guess in a way this is my potshot at it. I think there's a lot of humor in taking something that's wholesome and apple pie and turning it on its head. I Am Alpha encompasses the need some of these characters have not only to establish dominance over one another, but to do so through means of humiliation and violence."

Sounds kind of like some Middle Eastern conflicts, don't you think?

Or don't you? end story

I Am Alpha runs Feb. 11-20 at Arts on Real, 2826 Real. For more information, call 280-2156 or visit www.loadedguntheory.com.

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I Am Alpha, Loaded Gun Theory, Travis Holmes

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