Crazyface at Source Theatre Company

I am a big fan of scary plays. Scary movies, not so much. They've gotten to the point where they're just gore and yuck. Give me a good, intellectually disturbing play like The Pillowman or some such thing. Crazyface by Clive Barker isn't quite to that extent, but it does make you think about some things.

Tyl Oilenspiegel (Ashley Ivey), aka Crazyface, is first seen running away from his hometown with his mother and 3 sisters-in-law. Turns out his brother, Lenny (Joseph Thornhill) is a bigamist and somehow managed to get himself three wives, one of whom is pregnant. Lenny, however, has disappeared. Eventually, Tyl ends up going off on his own and winds up getting a box from Alvarez (Keith Irby) that holds a secret treasure of Spain. Alvarez gets killed by bandits before he can properly explain what's inside the box, and Tyl is left to deal with the Englishman (Jonathon Church), the Italian (John Tweel), and the Frenchman (Manolo Santalla) who all want the box for themselves. Tyl manages to evade them, but his name comes to the attention of Mengo (Lisa Lias), who is in the employ of the King of Spain. She has Lenny locked in a dungeon on a great wheel, and she lets him out to find his brother. When Lenny catches up with him, Tyl has just gotten married to a pig farmer's daughter, Shirley (Katie Atkinson). The festivities are disrupted, Lenny gets the box, and Tyl is assumed dead.

All this while, Tyl has an angel (Joe Brack) following him. Of course, only Tyl can see him. He's always been able to. Naturally, the angel always shows up at the worst possible time, often getting Tyl into a bit of a snag. However, the angel does play a hugely important part near the end of the play.

It's hard to talk about the plot without giving everything away. The ensemble (which also includes Misty Demory, Laty Carkuff, and Amy Quiggins) is incredibly strong, and each of them play at least 3 parts, sometimes upwards of 6 or 7. Only Ivey is one character throughout the whole play. On a beautiful set designed by A. J. Guban (who also designed the lights), the story of one fool and his destiny is laid out so proficiently you might think you're at a much bigger theatre. Constellation Theatre Company, which is in residence at Source, won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company this year at the Helen Hayes Awards, and they richly deserve it. Crazyface makes the 3rd production I've seen there (Tempatation and The Marriage of Figaro being the other two) and I am never disappointed with them.

One thing I love about DC theatre is that you often see the same actors over and over. Some always play the same role, no matter what play they've been cast in. Others do their best to make you believe them. Then there are some that can go into any role and it's like you've never seen them before. Brack and Demory did that for me last night. In Figaro, Brack played Figaro and was so brilliant I could have watched him every night and not ever gotten bored. Demory did the same as the Countess Almaviva in Figaro. I can't wait to see more of these two, and what Constellation does next. I think they have an incredibly bright future ahead of them.

by Clive Barker
through June 14
at Source Theatre
14th and S St, NW

4 stars


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