Yeah, so, in a weird turn of events, I've been raved about by an artist I truly respect and admire.
Actually, that's not true. Well, the respect and admire thing is true, but the rave thing isn't. It was more a friendly acknowledgement. Who cares? I didn't start this entry to talk about my critical acclaim. Well maybe I did, but that's beside the point.
Anyway, my point is that Rob Matsushita's last show with Broom Street Theater has closed. Actually it closed almost two weeks ago, but he's just gotten around to updating his 'blog about it, and it's interesting. At least, to those who are me, it's interesting.
I was first exposed to Rob's work in Fall of 2000 -- it was BST's Halloween show (and Rob's fourth show at BST), Irish Lesbian Vampire 2. This was at a time when the Majestic Theater was closed, so Rocky Horror wasn't running. I needed something else to do with my weekends, and ILV2K, a cross between B-movie camp and exploitation art (which was also not meant to be a participatory show) filled that void perfectly. I went with (what at the time was) the staff of Us (not Them) Productions, and since we were all reasonably affluent for 20-year-olds (read: "living at home"), we decided to attend the next week. And the one after that. This became a social event for everybody involved, and we watched the show evolve (and devolve). After ILV2K finished its run, we were all pretty depressed at the whole lotta nothing we had to do, since we could no longer spend our Saturday nights watching Emma and Isabella suck Joel Gersmann's corpse dry.
The next year he did a show called FACEvalue, about a boy-band that goes on an accidental killing spree. I thought that the show, driven by an excellent cast and the absolute most disturbing sound design ever, was great. Among my friends however, I was almost alone in this because apparently the show was too violent and not sexy enough. Whatever. The gradual slide of Us into dysfunction didn't help any, either. ILV2K was a group thing. Shortly before FACEvalue premiered, we had split into a number of warring factions who refused to go out socially together. Come to think of it, I was the one common element in each of the groups. Why the hell am I always in the middle?
Uh, anyway, FACEvalue seemed, at the time, to show great artistic growth over ILV2K's campiness, but having read the script to Whatever Happened to Bette and Joan? (which was written prior to ILV2K), I think Rob's always been pretty good at what he does. ILV2K was deliberate trash at its finest. The script to Whatever Happened to Bette and Joan? is probably still available on Rob's site, and you oughta read it. I'm trying to encourage you to look around there, so I won't link directly to it.
On the other hand, Rob's 2002 show, Orange Murder Suit showed a great deal of growth. Rob had stated before that he was working on some meatier rolls for women, and they manifested themselves here. OMS wasn't a comedy like the other two, and frankly, being about emotional abuse, it was a difficult show to sit through. I only managed to see it once, not because of the show's relative unpleasantness, but because I'd just managed to become really, really busy. Plus I was in the final semester of the degree I got but am not using and I was attending Rocky Horror weekly as a(n admittedly piss-poor) cast member. I was structuring my weekends around those two things and it was sucking.
Finally, Rob just finished out his tenure at BST with Psychos In Love, a comedy about two serial killers who, well, fall in love. Hence the title.
I'm not sure how to review Psychos. On the one hand, it's a pretty light show. Everything else I'd ever seen Rob do had at least a small message wedged in there between the one-liners and bloody murder scenes (yes folks, you can do bloody murder scenes in live theater). The closest Psychos comes to any sort of preachery* is toward the end where the two main characters kill off a whole bunch of high-profile right-wingers. On the other hand, Psychos isn't an entirely original show -- it's adapted from a 1986 film by Gorman Bechard (who apparently came to the show and loved it). Neither version of the story is meant to be particularly moralizing, just a lot of fun. And of course, the rest of Us (Not Them) Productions didn't make it because, well, Us hasn't *really* existed since early 2001, and everybody else lives in the booming metropoli** of Milton and Janesville (sorry Keith, Tom, and Lindsay). Or in Iowa (sorry Robert). Or with their parents and got yelled at for seeing a play with the word "lesbian" in its title back in 2000 (sorry Chad). Or just took a nap and didn't wake up in time (sorry Craig). Or was coming with Craig, and was never really part of Us to begin with (sorry Alice). Or is Tick (sorry Tick).
Meh. Their loss. And it really was, too. Psychos in Love may not have carried any strong political or intellectual message, but it was probably closer in spirit to ILV2K. And it was a helluva lot of fun.
So um, anyway, I'm sorry to see Rob leave Broom Street Theater. He wasn't the only reason I attended, but he was definately the big one. I s'pose the runner up would have to be my coworker Brian Wild, but his (consistently excellent) is of a totally different flavor than Rob's. Come of think of it, maybe that's why I liked Rob's work so much. Anybody can write a funny Vampire story. Rob is the only writer/director I've seen who can give it the John Woo/Tarantino/Wachowski Brothers treatment live onstage.
I guess I shouldn't be so depressed about this. Actually, I'm not depressed -- see up there where it says I'm "optimistic?" Well I am, since this isn't the end for Rob. He's been submitting his work elsewhere, and is working on new stuff which (as far as anyone knows right now) will be premiering locally, just not at BST. Nevertheless, this is sort of the end of an epoch for me in that whatever shreds of who I was and what my life was back in the halcyon heyday of Us are pretty much gone. They've been trying to dislodge themselves for some time, but the severance of Rob's work from BST and the apathy of the rest of the group toward the work of a man to whom they still all refer as a "genius" tell me that it's time to close the book on that portion of my life.
Why I connect Rob to Us (Not Them) Productions, I don't know.
Why I think anybody reading this will remember or care about Us (Not Them) Productions, I don't know.
I'm not even sure why I've just written a long, rambling treatise on this topic which won't be coherent when I come back to it in the morning.
Rob'll eventually see it, and he'll wonder what the hell my problem is, fercryinoutloud.
Oh, um, I said Rob "raved" about my work, right? Well he didn't exactly rave, but he mentioned me. You can read it on his weblog -- it's the September 10th, 2003 entry. I've taken the liberty of copying that portion of the entry:
I talked to Colin Gagnon, my one fan, as well, who saw Psychos probably at least seven times. He gave me a cd that he and his string quartet did (which I really liked) and I told him that, yes, this was my final show for Broom Street, after which he asked the question that everyone asks me:
"Well, what are you going to do now?"
"My one fan," huh? Apparently Rob has never talked to any of the people who have worked in his shows.
Glad you liked the CD, Rob. Unfortunately, in my sheepish attempt to simply give him the CD and not have to talk about it (that's the way I am) he misunderstood -- the composition is scored for a string quartet, but it's all synthesized. Damn, it's nice having samples that actually sound authentic. I'll have to set him straight on that.
The quartet, for those who don't already know, is a series of four pieces inspired by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which will be on my next(?) album, along with three pieces inspired by the Fates of Greek mythology, and an as yet unfinished fourth composition inspired (most likely, unless inspiration hits from a different direction) by the Norse concept of Ragnarok. God knows when I'll actually finish it.
Anyway, I gotta go to bed. I've been sleeping pretty poorly the last few days, and, well, my body needs its rest. Saturday my good friend Thomas is having one of his ever-popular film festivals. No idea what we'll be watching, but ten bucks says he calls me tomorrow to ask me to bring The Seventh Seal and/or Mulholland Drive. Possibly Boondock Saints.
* Preachery is not a real word.
** Metropoli is probably not a real word.
*** In Irish Lesbian Vampire 2, a character named Stoke utters the line "'One of us?' What are you, Tod Browning?"****
**** If you still don't get it, it's because you haven't seen the movie Freaks, which I just got around to last Sunday (after having borrowed it from a friend for nearly six months).