Until One Day I Run Out of Teeth and The Secret Thoughts of Clowns, American Monster Theater, at the Lunar Cabaret. Playwright Carey Friedman likes to smear the human body with ink and blood–so much so that she uses the same actor’s belly as a writing surface in both of these discombobulated, meandering one-acts, part of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival.

In Until One Day I Run Out of Teeth, Lance Baker portrays David, an everyman in a bathtub who writes letters to the Congressman after he meets the man’s assistant, Mary, one day on the bus–an encounter that quickly turns into David’s spiritual rape at the hands of this femme fatale and her terminally ill boss. All this in 20 minutes. Baker illuminates the stage in this faint but potent burp of a work–his physical presence onstage is glorious from the moment he stands up in the bathtub until said tub becomes his cradle/grave. Shocked, poked, and caressed, Baker exhibits the finesse of a swami hugging his bed of nails–and we’re along for the ride.

By contrast the actors’ talents are wasted in The Secret Thoughts of Clowns, a mindlessly enthusiastic script about a man and a woman at odds in a hotel room. He thinks he’s Sid Vicious; she thinks she’s a clown who can fly. Working themselves into states of babbling zeal, the characters deliver a message as mysterious as the popped balloon that brings the show to a close.

–Erik Piepenburg