nytheatre.com review by Eric Winick
August 12, 2006
A bald man goes for a hair transplant consultation, only to find himself chided by a disapproving doctor. In response he starts a club for those who, like him, suffer from a condition known as "bald rage." A stalker finds the tables turned when he is captured by a lunatic and transformed into a robot—only to find himself still drawn to the women around him. Two hideously deformed burn victims sit in a bar, lamenting the lack of excitement in their lives and their inability to approach an exotic dancer—who is also a burn victim. A disfigured woman nails an audition for a fire safety spokesperson, then is rejected when it is revealed that she was injured in a motorcycle accident, not a fire.
The seeds of something very funny lie in Piggy 1.5, a multimedia comedy experience from Philadelphia. Presented well, this dark, button-pushing extravaganza should, theoretically, make for an out-and-out laugh riot. Drawing on the time-tested, Pythonian technique of fusing videotaped scenes with live performance, the company ably marries technology with traditional sketch comedy. Wait—did I say traditional? As indicated, the company (which seems to go by the name "Piggy") has anything but tradition on its dirty mind, preferring instead to push the proverbial envelope repeatedly over the edge.
As disturbed as I found myself during the company's antics, a strange thing happened following my viewing of Piggy 1.5: when I described it to people, they laughed. The more I talked about what I'd seen, the funnier it became to me. Ostensibly, there's nothing funny about a scene in which a fuzzy pink creature (think Barney crossed with Sesame Street's Snuffle-upagus) called "the Wifebeater" appears on a TV show to save harangued husbands from their nagging spouses by punching the wives in the face. But Piggy (which includes three men and one woman) acknowledges the misogyny, and somehow, in doing so, earns its laughs.
Sadly, technical problems marred the performance I saw, a shame considering the first sketch involves a video camera and hand-manipulated Star Wars action figures. The lack of anything resembling front-of-house was dispiriting; no program was handed out, and the names of the actors flashed so quickly on a screen at the end that I couldn't catch any of them. Only David Commander, the writer and director, receives billing in the program guide, so I guess we can attribute this outrageous mess to him. (Let me check their MySpace page—oh, okay, here we go: Cary Curran, Tim Kelly, and Kevin Pfluger.)
Would I recommend Piggy 1.5 to you, enlightened reader? Sure. Fasten your seat belts, prepare to be offended, and you'll enjoy the ride. My mother, on the other hand...