Thursday, November 17, 2011

A proper peek at Pullins' Pico

Ian Thal playing the Sprite in a recent production of 'Pico.'
Photo courtesy Daniel Bourque.
Complicated world we live in. Most people aren't really happy until they get the whole story, but, in this sad era of diminished expectations, we're happy enough, or we'll settle for, a piece of the action. Because something's better than nothing, right? Because you can't always go whole hog. Which is what Ralph, the philosophy-reading, pig-in-a-blanket-on-a-stick-selling hero of "Plato on the Corn Dog" wants to do when he gets caught up in the say-anything-to-sell madness of a slick infomercial king in the new (sort-of) theater short from Port playwright Ron Pullins. And what is really interesting here is that this play, which the playwright is offering up, for free, to anyone who wants to participate artistically and vicariously in Occupy Whatever movement, and "Pico," which was just published by Steel Toe Review, were pulled, whole hog, from larger works — the former from "The Dollartorium," the playwright's funny take on the ugly side of the American dream and what it takes to sell it, and the latter from "Woman. Bicycle."

Pullins, who owns Focus Publishing, the Port publishing house specializing in classical Greek and Roman drama as well as deadly dry academic textbooks, describes "Pico" as "commedia dell’arte and a miracle play in a form Pinter might have imagined." Not bad. Guy ought to be a writer or something. But we see it more like Godot meets Kafka's K in a low-rent bar just down the hill from the Castle, called upon to perform a play no one in Moss's remembers, despite the fact that the little sprite, like Kafka's surveyor, is certain he is in the right place at the right time and ready to do the job they wanted him to do — even if no one else remembers engaging him.

It started out as a scene for "Woman. Bicycle,”a complicated play to summarize if you want to go beyond the playwright's dismissive "someone comes, something happens." Could be two strangers, a guy and a girl, collide while riding bicycles. Could be they’re out riding together and grabbed by a couple of rightish thugs who hassle them because they’re obviously of the wrong political persuasion. Lot of that going on these days. Or could be a guy trying to write a story and a woman who just wants to get him between the sheets. "Plato on the Corn Dog" drops its old-school 'tude, riffing on "The Cloud," Aristophanes’ spectacular hatchet job on the looking-very-familiar Greek intelligentsia at a time, like ours, when sophistry, not philosophy, ruled, taking aim at the insanity of our consumer, marketing and financial um ... culture?

The best thing about all this, at least for lazy theater-goers like me, is that you get to experience the stage without ever leaving the comfort of your computer. You can read "Pico" here and you can check in on the American dream with "Plato on the Corn Dog" here. Now, if only someone, somewhere, could do something so I wouldn't have to get off the couch to experience theater ...


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