nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
April 14, 2010
Be prepared to squirm in your seat if you dare to check out 666, a spectacle of physical male comedy. Conceived in Spain by Yllana Productions and directed by David Ottone, 666 features a company of four foppish men: Raul Cano, Fidel Fernandez, Juan Ramos Toro, and Joseph Michael O'Curneen.
It seems that inappropriate penile jokes will never get old, or perhaps they have but we continue to laugh at them, as children learning about private parts for the first time. 666 indulges in them all; this show may be every male's dream or some female's nightmare. But the talent of these performers is undeniable.
Upon entering the Minetta Lane Theatre, the audience is greeted by the performers dressed in blue cop-suits and dark sunglasses, carrying police batons. (This should have been a dead giveaway that it wouldn't be long before costumes would be stripped off.) The "cops" roam the theatre as the audience peters in. An overhead announcement encourages the use of cell phones (on vibrate, of course), twitter, video recording, and pictures—as long as there's no flash. By this point, I knew I was in for an irreverent production.
The show consists of ten vignettes, each taking place within the confines of a prison. If you are seated within the first five rows of the stage, you may get wet—don't worry, it's just water, despite what our imagination tells us.
One of the more enjoyable scenes is "Sweet Dreams." The prisoners, sticking their heads out from the wings and resting on pillows, manage to give the illusion that they are floating in prison bunks. We witness a nightmare of Raul Cano, during which he is sodomized by the other inmates while clinging to his stuffed baby lamb—one of the milder inappropriate acts on stage—and a dream of Juan Ramos Toro, where he discovers a gun and shoots various caricatured offenders, including a judge and street cop, played by O'Curneen, and a mime, played by Cano, in Matrix-like slow motion, with classical music playing in the background as a funny contrast. The use of the performers' bodies in this particular scene is astonishing, in that they appear to have slowed down time with their movements. Cano's mime is most impressive; he is obviously the most talented physical performer of the bunch.
In one number, "Prison Dates," Cano brings a planted audience member on stage, comically seducing her, then bringing her backstage to do the nasty. He emerges from the wings, in search of a condom from his counterparts. They give him a sullied one and, in the most repulsive moment of the evening, he squeezes it out on stage before taking it back with him. It was moments like these that I found unnecessary and merely a source for shock value. I thought the performers were captivating enough that they didn't need to do things that could potentially turn people off. Luckily, my audience, with mostly men in the house, seemed to be enjoying themselves.
One particularly gory vignette is reminiscent of Sweeney Todd: Toro shaves Fidel Fernandez with an old-fashioned blade and repeatedly cuts his face "on accident." There's plenty of blood in this scene to go around. But, as often happened, my disgust was followed by delight. When these guys make a choice, they go all the way. And I give them much credit for that.
The final "Inferno" scene involves the whole company, wearing nothing but extremely long strap-on phalluses. Cano joins the audience, stepping over the chairs, his bum in our faces, and even goes as far as spraying us with his phallus (water, of course). At this point I felt a little embarrassed for my guest, who thankfully had a sense of humor about the whole experience. Cano wears a wire-mic with which he makes all sorts of undecipherable noises to demonstrate his vocal talent. All the while, rock-metal music plays in the background.
Leaving this unforgettable evening aside, I would love to see these well-trained comedians tackle something with a different content. Their physical prowess, comic timing, and ability to tell many a story without dialogue is indeed impressive. But the dirty jokes did get old for me. And I prefer to leave the theatre dry.