Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review of Red Theater Chicago's Prince Max's Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Prince Max's Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior. It was by Ellen Struve, and it was directed by Elizabeth Lovelady. It was about a man named Prince Max (Heather Riordan) who was going on an adventure in America in 1832 with a watercolorist named Bodmer (Charlee Cotton) to paint the people and things they see along the way. They develop a friendship on the journey. It is about discovery, art, and the challenges of different cultures coming into contact. I thought this show was really fun. I thought it was educational, weird, and funny, and I really enjoyed it.

Prince Max just mostly observes everything, which is better than pillaging. He and Bodmer aren't like, "Yay, let's go and kill everyone!" But they are also not like, "Let's watch from a respectful distance and let everyone at home learn about how beautiful this culture is." They are more like, "Let's get up close and see what they are all doing, but just creepily paint them in the corner, not do anything harmful, but not do anything helpful either." Prince Max doesn't really see the Native Americans as his equals, but he finds them very interesting. What he wants to do is inspect this culture but he doesn't respect them, so it is troubling to watch even though you don't actually get to meet any of the Native Americans. He is insensitive but he is documenting things that are important to know. If this kind of guy was alive right now doing this sort of thing, I would punch him directly in the face, but for his time he was a pretty good person. I feel like Bodmer questioned Prince Max's decisions a little bit more than Prince Max did and that made me sympathize with Bodmer more and feel closer to that character.

There were many strange sections. Probably the strangest one was when a bear (Scot West) walked out in a dream sequence and started having a monologue about being a bear. He's just talking about how hard it is to be a bear. The bear would turn up at random intervals to be like, "Hi. I'm a Bear. You're welcome," which I thought was very funny. Another funny but strange part was when Prince Max would shoot a bird and then there would be a fake beanie baby one that would fall from the sky. It was so dark and hilarious. I found that really funny. There was also a character who was like a classic American hunter guy (West) who just drinks beer and shoots things he sees in the woods. He had a monologue about how much fun it was to shoot things. I was surprised he and Prince Max didn't get along better!

They used a lot of anachronisms, which is basically using things from a modern era in a story set in the past. They talked about Dunkin' Donuts coffee to talk about their coffee shortage, and they had a Dunkin' Donuts cup on stage. They also used a Karaoke machine on several occasions, either as a microphone when they were talking or for an actual Karaoke night. Bodmer sang the song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" which was funny because Bodmer had an obsession with bridges and painting them and they were kind of traveling over troubled water on the Missouri River to get from place to place. Then Prince Max takes over and sings a different song, which shows you that he needs to be the center of attention always. Also, Bodmer, whenever he was painting would have headphones on. Anytime he didn't have them in his ears listening to music, they would be around his neck. They were a part of his character that indicated that he was kind of cut off from the world, but this was a way of showing it more understandably and making it more relevant for the audience.

People who would like this show are people who like shooting things, Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and being a bear. I think people should go see this show. It is educational because you get to learn about an actual historical event. It is really weird but in the best way. I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Aaron Sawyer, Rasean Davonte Johnson

No comments: