It won't be pretty from Feb. 17 to March 5 at Off-Broadway's Theater for the New City. Taking the stage during those dates is The Gospel of Cyrus According to Cyrus, a new play by Chris Talbott, directed by Laramie Dennis.
The Cyrus of the title is a hillbilly who gets smacked on the head by God one day and ordered to spend his life "drunken -- smashed -- continually." Cyrus carries out his mission with gusto and immediately has an impact on the community. Fueled by alcohol and libido, he gathers a cultish group of disciples who build him a city, much like the Branch Davidian's compound. But when Cyrus messes around with his own daughter, the honeymoon's over and his flock turns on him with shotguns.
A production statement joins Talbott's work with that of Rochelle Owens, the 60s playwright responsible for such virulently primitive and theatrical works as Futz (a farmer loves his pig; outrage ensues) and Beclch [sic, pronounced "bek'-lech"] (the title character encourages cock fights and tricks her husband into developing elephantiasis).
The drama is written entirely in rhyming couplets, making Talbott, along with Kirk Wood Bromley, arguably the only modern verse playwright currently working in New York. Talbott's also penned lyrics to songs with pepper the drama.
Cyrus still not interesting enough for you? Here's one more tantalizing fact: Cyrus is played by Jessejames Locorriere, whose father, Dennis Locorriere, was the lead singer for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, of pop fame ("The Cover of the Rolling Stone"). Tickets are $10. Theater for the New City is located at 155 First Ave. In New York City. For information, call (212) 254-1109.
--By Robert Simonson