The Target Margin Theater production, which began Jan. 4, will play through Jan. 25 at Off-Broadway’s HERE Arts Center (145 Ave. of the Americas, one block south of Spring St.). Target Margin's artistic director David Herskovits directs, per usual.
The edgy, experimental Target Margin has not had a new full production in two years, and will spend the next three examining Johann Wolfgang Goethe's famous epic about the scholarly Dr. Faustus and his fateful deal with the Devil to exchange his immortal soul for omnipotence and omniscience.
These Very Serious Jokes, which runs an hour and a half, without intermission, represents part one of the long-term project—roughly 2,600 lines of Goethe's 12,000-line play. It was workshopped last November in Brooklyn.
Herskovits gives the work a primitive theatricality. The drama is depicted as being performed by a ragtag German theatre group, complete with producer and resident playwright. The resulting performance has the intended feel of a dress rehearsal, with actors openly signalling for sound cues and interrupting each other with calls of "That line's been cut." Simple paper drops, cloth curtains and crude props (Greenspan's Mephisto wears a headband of red horns; God dons a very fake white beard) crowd the cluttered and colorful stage, on which a stage manager performs her duties in clear sight.
Jokes ends with Faust's first encounter with Gretchen. Part II is expected in early 2005. Also in the cast are George Hannah, E.C. Kelly, Pun Bandhu, Yuri Skujins and Wayne Scott. Scenic design is by Carol Bailey; costume design y Kaye Voyce; lighting design by Lenore Doxsee.
David Greenspan, both an actor and a playwright, has been busy at both trades in recent years. After a break from writing that lasted several years, he returned in spring 2003 with She Stoops to Comedy, a Playwrights Horizons production for which he won an Obie Award. He also acted in the piece. Soon after, he premiered The Myopia, a solo piece presented in a workshop at The Soho Think Tank's "Ice Factory" annual summer festival. Other recent acting gigs include Saved, High Life and The Wax.
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