Don't expect cogency. Don't even expect to know what's going on for half the time. But do expect a runaway boy accompanied by his faithful weathervane rooster, and a battle between the Sun and Moon for dominance of the sky. All this and more can be found in Erik Ehn's Swedish Tales of Woe, two one-acts by the experimental playwright presented by Off Off-Broadway's Undermain Theatre, Dec. 13-23.
Ehn's abstract, elliptical plays often consist of an idea and little else. There is a text, but little dialogue between characters or forward plot movement. Scenic effects are described, but with few hints as to how the director is to achieve them. And often Ehn used a well-known story and legend as a jumping-off point, such as the story of "The Little Mermaid" in 'Maid, or, in the case of this production, ancient fairy tales.
Swedish Tales' two one-acts are Gold Into Mud and Stripping for the Dead Man. The first concerns a giant who spends his time spinning gold thread into mud and straw (shades of "Rumpelstiltskin"). The latter is about a poor Gypsy prince who, in order to win his love's hand in marriage, seeks out his fortune — a task that will, unfortunately, result in his death (there's a mermaid in this one, too). As for the title, well, apparently Ehn is fascinated with the life of August Strindberg.
Bruce DuBose directs a cast featuring Cameron Cobb, Nick Brisco, Newton Pittman, Marina Celander and Julie Plummentaz.
Tickets are $12. Swedish Tales is at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster St., NYC. For more information, call (718) 777-2475, or (214) 747 1424. —By Robert Simonson