If you've got a bug for Bertolt Brecht's Baal, then you have to hurry to catch both productions of the play going on Off Off Broadway. The Bat Theatre Company and director Jim Simpson's "bop-era" adaptation, with a new translation by Peter Mellencamp, will play July 27 - September 2 at the Flea Theatre. But, the Fovea Floods production that opened July 20 is set to close at OOB's Ontological Theatre July 30.
Baal was Brecht's first play, which he wrote while still in college. The BBC endeavored -- er, endeavoured to stage a production of it starring David Bowie and Zoë Wanamaker.
Baal is the obscure tale of a rebellious poet who journeys through revelry and debauchery to experience life. Filled with sex, violence, and lines like "If a woman's hips are ample/ Then I want her in the hay/ Skirt and stockings all a-rumple/ (Cheerfully) - for that's my way," the play is far from wholesome.
Fovea Floods aspires to widen the horizon of modern theatre. Appropriately, they follow the Brechtian theory of epic theatre, which departs from the conventional way of theatrical viewing. In the Realistic theatre of illusion, the audience is encouraged to identify and become emotionally involved with characters. In Brecht's Verfremdungs effekt ("alienation effect"), spectators know they are in a theatre watching a play, and are more apt to be critical of characters. Using this, Fovea seeks to create theatre that can compete with the spectacle of sports and film.
The Ontological at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, 131 East 10th (at Second Ave.) is the host of Baal closing July 30. Curtain is 8 PM and tickets are $12. There is an added show Friday July 28 at 10 PM. For reservations, call (212) 533-4650. *
For more information on the Bat's Baal, playing at the downtown Flea Theater, 41 White Street (between Church and Bowery) visit http://www.thebat.com>www.thebat.com. For tickets, priced at $15, call (212) 226-2407
-- by Ernio Hernandez