DR. GOAT: GOAT DOCTOR–FOUR SHORT PLAYS
at Cafe Voltaire
Another day, another bad play. Seems I’ve been saying that to myself a lot lately. And to be honest, I’m really tired of it. Chicago’s supposed to be a great theater town. And so it is. It’s a great town to do theater. But it’s no longer a great town to see theater. It’s so easy to produce a low-budget play, everybody’s doing it. And very few people are asking themselves why.
So what do we get? About 90 dismally bad plays running simultaneously at various storefront theaters. Now we have one more: Iguana Productions’ Dr. Goat. Goat Doctor–Four Short Plays. It’s not any worse than any other bad production in town, but it’s not any better either.
All of the four short plays are written by John Weagly, a young man with a fertile imagination but not much to say. Take “Cuddle Time With Mantis.” Mantis enjoys an apres-sex cigarette with her lover, who lies seemingly exhausted on the pillow next to her. She talks incessantly. He says nothing, doesn’t even move. Of course, we find out that she just killed him to revenge herself against an exlover. Voila! the play is over and were left saying, big deal. It’s not eerie. It’s not funny. It sheds no light on the human condition. Why do it?
In “Iguana and the Yeti Man,” a young woman gets her lover to embark on a crime spree supposedly inspired by Bonnie and Clyde. It’s very inventive–with prophetic dreams about iguanas taking over the world and a character raised by the yeti–but it too has no point. It also has no character development, and it’s poorly directed and badly performed. The fourth play, “Dr. Goat: Goat Doctor,” a weird spoof of The Maltese Falcon, has the same flaws. But, hey–at least these works give the actors and directors something to do.
One piece, “Mama Was a Wombat,” almost provides the audience with something to think about. Julie Kautz gives a respectable performance as Paden, an enraged performance artist who hates everyone from mama’s boys to close-minded people who don’t agree with her that eating dead people is the ultimate act of recycling. During one of her shows, Paden staged a mock suicide and a woman audience member died of a heart attack. Now we see Paden giving a performance in which she defends her art and makes the audience her judges, staring us in the eye and accusing us of thoughts she’s put in our heads. Weagly comes close to making an interesting point about “radical” artists who wrongly attack their audiences. But unfortunately, as in his other plays here, the message gets lost in a sea of “clever” dialogue.