Both those who missed director-author Richard Maxwell fall 2000 hit, Boxing 2000, and the people who did see it and are waiting for Maxwell's next work, will be happy with the spring line-up at Manhattan's Soho Rep. Caveman, a new play written and directed by Maxwell, will play the OOB theatre April 18 to May 19. And Boxing 2000 will play in repertory with Caveman, May 1-12.
Boxing 2000 played at the Present Company Theatorium in September 2000 and netted a rave review from the New York Times. Overseas commitments, however, forced the production to end as scheduled, without extending. However, beginning Sept. 27, a 10 PM was tacked onto every evening.
Boxing 2000 — a venture of Maxwell's new company, The New York City Players — concerns a pair of New York City half-brothers. The older sibling trains the younger for a boxing match, while they talk about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Also taking part in the drama are a father and one of the brother's girlfriend.
Caveman will star Tory Vazquez, Jim Fletcher and Lakpa Bhutia. The latter two appeared in Boxing 2000 (the title of which will apparently not change with the passing of the year 2000). The play is about a married couple, whose lives are altered when a third person enters their midst. On the surface, the plot resembles that of House, Maxwell's break-out play, in which a family of mother, father and child is changed forever when a stranger pays a sudden call.
As with most of his works, Caveman will feature a musical score composed by Maxwell. However, whereas in past shows songs were played on cassette recorders, the music in Caveman will be performed by Greg Hirte, Bryan Kelly and Scott Sherratt. *
Richard Maxwell's meteoric success in the below-14th-Street theatre scene has been one of the more remarkable Off-Off-Broadway stories of the past two years. The playwright-director has bounced from success to success, staging such critically hailed plays as House and Showy Lady Slipper at P.S. 122 and Cowboys and Indians at Soho Rep. The first of these won a 1999 Obie Award.
At the same time, Maxwell has become a darling of the international circuit, mounting his work at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Theater der Welt and The Hebbel-Theater in Berlin, The Exit Festival and the Via Festival in France, The Kaaitheater in Brussels, and The Vienna Festival in Austria.
The denizens of Maxwell's plays typically speak with all the emotion of a dial-tone, retaining a dispassionate mein and delivery whether in everyday conversation or heated argument. Breaking up these zombie-like exchanges are occasional songs, also written by Maxwell and typically resembling schlocky contemporary pop ballads. Critics have called Maxwell an aesthetic descendant of such figures as Samuel Beckett, Sam Shepard, Eugene Ionesco and Richard Foreman.
Tickets are $15. Soho Rep is located at 46 Walker Street. For information, call (212) 479-7979.
—By Robert Simonson