Mister Z Loves Company

Rubber Repertory's revival is a marriage of depravity and delight, of filth and fantasy

Arts Review

Mister Z Loves Company

The Vortex, through April 25

Running time: 1 hr

Here's Mister Z, a most peculiar man with a phalanx of naughty maids. You know the maids are naughty because they're wearing skimpy naughty-maid outfits and brandishing, in well-executed song and dance, anatomically detailed dildos. Also, oh dear me, a couple of these naughty maids are naughty men in women's clothing.

The maids are upset with their creepy master – he works them too hard, leaving the stains and dreck of his various entertainments for the domestics to scrub away – and they're out for revenge. The maids will extract this revenge from the sleekly muscled hide of Mister Z, even while he continues to ply his habits of anal sex and coprophagia with the familiar-looking fellow he discovers inside an old steamer trunk.

Oh my, yes, there's some simulated butt-rapery and faux shit-eating that occurs as part of this disgusting, brilliant spectacle from Josh Meyer and Matt Hislope of Rubber Repertory. The company that most recently brought us The Casket of Passing Fancy – and, before that, Wallace Shawn's A Thought in Three Parts – is not a company to eschew the sexual, the scatological, the relentlessly squicky.

The thing is, "brilliant" wasn't used above because it turned up in some Google-based search for synonyms. The thing is, even with the gross-out moments woven so deeply into this tapestry of id-plumbing, the show is also an amazing re-creation of the sort of theatrical smarts and physical comedy that the best pioneers of the silent film era (think: Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy) perpetrated in their own heady days.

Hislope and Meyer as Mister Z and his doppelganger are instruments of terpsichorean precision, a Mutt-and-Jeff duo who are silent save for when one declaims Noel Coward's "I've Been to a Marvelous Party" and when the other unleashes King Lear's "Cataracts and Hurricanos" speech. In between (and sometimes while) abusing and/or pleasuring each other via stimulation of various orifices with various implements, the dapper pair performs dances with the sort of audience-thrilling synchronicity exemplified by martial artists Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in the initial fight sequence from the chop-socky classic Project A – to the same impressive comedic effect.

We're suggesting here that Hislope and Meyer, as creators and performers, have reached a level of supreme martial artistry, although marital artistry might be the more appropriate term for this show: the marriage of depravity and delight, of filth and fantasy, of turds and technical genius. That the crew of naughty maids match the Misters' exuberance and skill with their own antics ... that the sound design by Adam Sultan and the set design by Lowell Bartholomee so wonderfully aid and abet this crime against decency ... well, that's just gravy on the taters, friend, that's just lube on the dildo.

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