Oracle Production presents
Co-directed by Ben Fuchsen and Justin Warren
Thru March 6th
3809 N. Broadway
How big is it? Oracle Production presents The Castle by Howard Barker. Known for his theatre of catastrophe and sexual perversion, Barker has penned a raunchy satire depicting a moment in history from a different angle. A knight has returned home after a five year crusade. His dominion has been altered. Forgoing formalized religion, the women have made a community based in love and nature. Screwing the village non-crusader, the women have pro-created to continue civilization. The knight's own wife is in an obsessive relationship with a witch. That cunt! (Be warned! The Castle is crude and sexually aggressive.) In retaliation, the knight destroys tranquility and eradicates a castle. The Castle is about man's ongoing siege over the power of the c word.
Barker is all about the lengthy monologues in his theatre of catastrophe. He's written complex themes for the sake of chaotic expression. It's messy! Who's going to clean it up? The Oracle gives it a shot! The Oracle cast storms the material with zealous commitment. Leading the charge, Jason Rice (Stucley the knight) delivers his orations with Monty Python-esque humor. The sexually repressed knight makes increasingly absurd demands of the castle builders and the church. He wants a big erection! Not just in the height of the castle, but also in the depiction of Jesus in the Bible. Victoria C. Gilbert (the witch) rants out her love obsession and female persecution. The talented cast use distinct diction choices to organize characters and situations. Even with their efforts, The Castle is still a cluttered fortress of Barker's crusade against convention.
How big is it? Although the space is tiny, the Oracle Theatre utilizes interesting techniques to compensate for its size. The audience is designated to twenty-something chairs. Co-directing, Ben Fuchsen and Justin Warren have the actors utilize every inch of this storefront theatre. During the witch's prison rant, the action is taking place behind an entire audience section. The production also does some fascinating things with shadow boxing. Using actors and stick puppets, a human size shadow box illustrates dramatic moments.
Design and costumes were an under-utilized element for the show. Draped afghans were suppose to show the women's domination. It looked more like building a fort at grandma's house. The costumes were uneven. The knight and soldier were identifiable on sight. Others, not so much! Maybe it's too close to the holiday shows but the witch and the village whore looked like reindeers in their brown colored long john sets. And the oversize panties on the one made it seem like she was a baby reindeer. As the material becomes more complicated, it's even more important to help identify who the character is.
Despite the amount of Barker material to cover and the smaller size of the Oracle Theatre, The Castle has moments of hitting the G-spot! If talking dirty turns you on, The Castle will penetrate your pleasure points.
Getting into the action with the bucket crowning, Dan describes the show as bold, very committed, and convoluted.
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Foreplay, we dined at Finley Mahoney's (3701 N. Broadway). With a football game blaring in the background, it might be an odd choice for the theatre goer. But the night is all about unconventional choices. The service is friendly so we easily avoid using the c-word. Milord orders French onion soup, steak sandwich and coffee. I decide to not play it safe and ask for my Cubano to be served on a pretzel roll. It's no Harry met Sally deli scene but quite satisfying.