Through February 8
MERCURY FUR Manny Fried Playhouse/Subversive Theatre
Philip Ridley’s “Mercury Fur” is an extremely graphic look at what some people will do to survive in a post-apocalyptic world and what the very few can do to those people to feed their appetites.
Brit Ridley sets his story somewhere in London’s East End, where a team of low-lifes is setting the scene for feeding the appetite of Party Guest (Vinnie DeStefano), by letting him torture and kill ten-year-old Party Piece (Helen Rose) in the later stage of the party.
He will die wearing an Elvis-appearing gold suit designed by the transgender costumier Lola (Jeremy Catania).
Elliot (Matthew B. Cullen) is handling the party on behalf of his gang leader Spinx (Zachary Bellus).
He’s working with his brother Darren (Zach Thomas) and Naz (Lucas Colon), a young orphan who needs supplies to survive.
Spinx is accompanied by the Duchess (Justyne Harris), a blind woman with whom the gang leader may have had a relationship.
All of these people appear to have their minds damaged by the hallucinogenic butterflies which are the substance of choice in this time.
Elliot seems to have quashed any moral values he might once have had before the semi “1984” Apocalypse which destroyed London and probably much more and the people like the gang members became feral pimps for people like Party Guest.
Subversive Theatre has long staged plays and shows which challenge the established order, the abuses of the 1/10 of 1%.
That’s certainly what “Mercury Fur” is about, the pressures the rich can put on those who aren’t, to lead them to do whatever they feel necessary to survive, to feed themselves, no matter how reprehensible their behavior is.
Do we blame prostitutes or Johns?
Should we blame those who pay for the sexual service or those who see no other way to survive?
Are these characters so depraved that killing a youth is within their value system?
I realize where the playwright is going with this script, the evil of the rich and the moral poverty of the poor who have no opportunity to avoid giving in when there is no alternative.
Does this happen?
There are certainly what are usually called “snuff films” out there, perhaps some actually of murders.
There are no good people in this play, just different levels of bad.
That’s true even without an apocalypse.
These are issues worth considering, in context.
So often, the stage, the big screen or the small screen raise issues worth thinking about.
“Mercury Fur” certainly has some of that.
However, this is way over the top, despite some strong work from director Michael Doben.
As usual with Subversive, this is an erratic cast, with some strong performances from Cullen, Harris, Catania and DeStefano.
Emily Powrie contributes the set design worthy of a some abandoned BMHA project.
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