Review: Devils Don’t Forget (The Mammals)

| January 15, 2012
Dennis Frymire as Buster in The Mammals' "Devils Don't Forget," by Bob Fisher.       
      
Devils Don’t Forget 

Written and Directed by Bob Fisher
at Zoo Studio, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map)
thru Feb 25  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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A devil you won’t soon forget

     

The Mammals' "Devils Don't Forget," by Bob Fisher, runs through February 25th at Zoo Studio.

    
The Mammals presents
    
Devils Don’t Forget

Review by K.D. Hopkins

The Mammals have done it again. Devils Don’t Forget is a 90 minute journey into the psychological recesses of an apocalyptic nightmare. The second of three plays in a cycle called The Noir Triptych, it’s also darkly funny and absurdist theater at its best. This production blends film as a cyc wall with sound and deliberately bleak lighting. The result is part Kafka, a dash of film noir, surrealism, and grindhouse horror.

Dennis Frymire as Buster in The Mammals' "Devils Don't Forget," by Bob Fisher.The audience is taken into the labyrinth of an amnesiac named Buster played by Dennis Frymire. His shaved head has two bloody bandages on either side. It is never revealed if Buster has had a lobotomy, electroconvulsive therapy or has performed self-mutilation. Frymire has an intense rapport with the audience members asking questions or to hold an imaginary boiled egg while he tries to remember how he got in his predicament.

The character of Girl One is played by Sara Gorsky. She plays the role of the loving help mate who only wants to help Buster remember and get back to being the loving man that she claims he is. Gorsky is quite effective in the role, recoiling in terror during Buster’s amnesiac ravings, even in the middle of a sexual encounter.

The story takes a noir turn when Buster encounters the mysterious Udo (played with maniacal relish by Don Hall) while walking the streets looking for clues to his life. Hall’s sculpted features, prominent ears, and Three Stooges haircut are perfect for the character, as he’s lit to appear as a sepia figure on a black and white canvas. Udo’s sidekick Dumdum, played by Gabe Garza, is the cognitively challenged strongman that every evil torture expert needs. He is convinced that he and Udo are avenging angels using their strength to subdue victims and then clean up the carnage. Garza is brilliant in this role, bringing an innocence to an unsavory character; infusing Dumdum with sweetness and a conscience.

Buster’s journey brings him to a dive bar with a bronchial bartender (Sarah Koerner) and a femme fatale (Annie Hogan). The interplay between the three characters is the comic center of the play. Koerner punctuates the dialogue with spot on phlegm-infused hacking. She delivers a line about turning down sex as if a lonely saxophone is wailing on a soundtrack. Meanwhile, Annie Hogan’s seductress should come with a rolling fog. She is a portrait of the 1940’s, wearing a skintight red dress slit up the front with peek-a-boo hair and stilettos. Her dance with the wall and comic bump and grind lend an expressionistic vibe to the scene and a strange levity. There is sympathy for Buster as he walks into this crappy bar with two holes in his head, but it’s also a visual that you cannot believe is real.

Don Hall (Udo) and Gabe Garza (Dumdum) in The Mammals' "Devils Don't Forget" by Bob Fisher.

Buster’s amnesiac journey brings him to a confrontation with Father, played by Justin Warren and Erin Orr. Father is a creepy blend of anima and animus dragged from the crypt. He is wheeled in but is also the driver of the wheelchair. I admit I might have nightmares over the scene involving Father coming down the aisle covered in moss and decayed flesh. The audience’s recoil in disgust fits well with with the nightmare from which Buster cannot awaken.

The violence in this production is never arbitrary. The screen images recall the work of avant garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger. The black and white images are scratchy and stark while the color frames appear to bleed and throb. The Mammals continue to bring innovation to the Chicago theater scene. Theirs is a fresh take on expressionism, the absurd, and the psychosis that can ensue in the search for truth in a mendacious and dark society.

  
Rating: ★★★½
  
   

Devils Don’t Forget continues through February 25th at Zoo Studio, 4001 N. Ravenswood, Suite B-1 (map), with performances on Saturdays at 10pm on in January, and Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm in February (all shows are BYOB).  Tickets are $20, and reservations can be made by phone (866-593-4614) or by sending an e-mail to themammals@gmail.com. More information at ChicagoMammals.com(Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission)

Sarah Koerner as the Bartender in The Mammals' "Devils Don't Forget" by Bob Fisher.

All photos by Bob Fisher


     

artists

cast

Dennis Frymire (Buster); Sara Gorsky (Girl 1); Don Hall (Udo); Gabe Garza (Dumdum); Sarah Koerner (Bartender); Annie Hogan (Girl Two); Justin Warren, Erin Orr (Father)

behind the scenes

Bob Fisher (director, sound, photos); Liz Chase (asst. director); Warwick Johnson (video); Sarah Gorsky (lighting); Ann Sonneville (costumes, props); Christina Lepri (production assistant); Dianna Driscoll (stage manager)

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Category: 2012 Reviews, Extensions-Remounts, K.D. Hopkins, Mammals, The, Zoo Studio

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