It is an uncommon delight to see the bizarre and sinister done perfectly well. Second Thought Theatre forms a striking and nonsensical black pearl of a play in Eugene Ionesco’s The Lesson in Water Tower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. The play itself is a brilliant and crystalline example from the tradition of the “Theatre of the Absurd,” and director Mac Lower elicits tour de force performances from the three actor cast particularly David Lugo as Professor to make this one-act soar above all other short pieces.
The premise (the last straightforward thing in the show) is a tutoring session by a professor and his new pupil (Anastasia Munoz). There is quite a bit of nonsense in the form of non-sequiturs, repetition, and simplistic and misplaced logic all in the pursuit of highlighting the futility of communication, and poking holes in the banal. The maid (Abigail Herring) swishes in now and then to fret over her employer’s health, and utter foreshadowing pronouncements of doom with statuesque aplomb. The professor, a hunching, stammering and ogling erudite is deaf to her warnings as he delves deeper into the session overwhelming himself and his student in the process.
Lugo’s portrayal of the creepy tutor is a thing of exhausting virtuosity as he spits out illogical, rapid-fire gibberish. His full commitment to a character of such gloomy pathology is awe-inspiring. Munoz plays the pupil as a bosom thrusting robo-Lolita. She answers the professor’s queries, and makes droll, monotone asides to the audience with skill and wide-eyed perkiness. Lower and company take the audience on a frightening and exhilarating descent into madness, making a classic seem original and setting the standard for the festival.
Repeats Thursday, March 10
Photo by David Leggett