Bonne Nuit Poo Poo
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
February 26, 2010
Theatre employs many different types of language to move us. There is, of course, the spoken word, but there's also the language of the physical body, the language of music, the language of the visual arts found in the scenery, costumes, and lights. Theatre Reverb uses them all in a balancing act that never fails to entertain. Bonne Nuit Poo Poo is fringe theater at its very best.
They were the winners of the Audience Choice award in the '08 FRIGID festival and I can see why. Their brand of strange stream-of-consciousness comedy is like no other. This year they give us Max and Maxi, two wild, motorcycle riding, post-apocalyptic roamers of the desolate Australian outback. Yes, these characters are based on the popular Mad Max series of movies, but that's just a jumping-off point. The show has nothing to do with the movies. I could attempt to describe the plot but I'm afraid that would only confuse you. The show is broken down into a series of vignettes that are accompanied by live streaming media, text, video, and music.
In the opening scene they ride through the desert by bouncing on backless office chairs, holding a bar with handle bar grips and following a streaming video of a video game. They watch a monitor in front of them and we watch a large screen behind them. They use this technique throughout the show. Their banter in this scene, and all of the scenes, is nonsensical and yet I never lost them. They are not alienating in slightest. Some of my other favorite scenes include the Donny and Marie lip sync scene in which the video they are singing along with begins to break down seemingly due to technical difficulties and they sputter and static right along with it. There is a bizarre slow battle between them and their operator (the guy running all the technical stuff sitting on stage with a laptop) in which they are living Pacmen trying to get the best of the operator. I loved the adorable dance they do to "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" and the dance toward the end after they have been, quite literally, reborn and they do a ribbon dance with their umbilical cords.
Created and performed by Kristen Arnesen (Maxi), Christopher Gilkey (Max), and Radoslaw Konopka (Operator), Bonne Nuit Poo Poo (French for "Goodnight Poo Poo") is extremely innovative and original theater. Konopka's technical elements slip seamlessly into the show without any jarring effects or sudden bursts of media that is more refined than the live performance. Arnesen and Gilkey play off each other perfectly and never fail to get laughs with some of the simplest gestures. I liked just watching their faces. They use a lot of physicality and not all of it is necessarily precise and that just makes it fun and funny. Their bizarre sense of humor always seems to capture something familiar. Theatre Reverb uses pop culture as the mythology of our culture. They also like to talk to their audience and put them on the big screen when they do. That may be a bit embarrassing for some but certainly not alienating.
I was, once again, blown away by Theater Reverb's ability to to go off the deep end and take me right along with them. They are the direction I hope theatre is headed. Check this show out before it's gone.