|Kristie Rolape and Kyle Ware in Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble
presents Test Subjects. Photo – Le Petomane.
Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble presents Test Subjects
Reviewed by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Le Petomane is made up of six performers, except that in Test Subjects there are only two. Other shows have been three or four; and on rare occasions that are to be celebrated, it is all six. Since Le Petomane productions are almost always devised work created from scratch by only the members involved in any given show, this makes for some of the most original and unexpected theatre around. The one thing you can count on with this company is that their shows are always unique; but it can also be said that sometimes they stand apart even within the Le Pet “canon.”
Test Subjects opens with Kyle Ware and Kristy Rolape entering the stage in the context of “The Kyle and Kristie Show,” a format patterned after 1950s television shows (think George Burns and Gracie Allen) complete with sponsors such as Grape Nuts cereal that are held up onstage for commercial plugs. The daft banter between the two is funny, with Ware playing it slightly straighter than usual and even a little uptight, while Rolape pitches a broad homage to dizzy blonde comediennes such as Lucille Ball. But it is only a warm-up for the far more surreal lunacy that follows the introduction of an entirely new premise: a scientific study conducted through a device called T.O.D.D.
The shift is audacious and opens up the two actors’ virtuosity in a series of quick-change sketches in which “Kyle” and “Kristie” are possessed by various eccentric personalities. That T.O.D.D. is portrayed onstage by a smart phone resting in a dock underscores the savvy subtext of how our relationship to electronic devices has grown so dependent that the tail is now wagging the dog.
We have seen these actors many times before, but their partnership here prompts different aspects of their talents to the surface. The self-conscious exploration of the dynamic of a comedy team of two proves a fertile scenario that results in a multi-layered narrative of surprising complexity given the relatively brief running time of the show (just over 60 minutes on opening night). Ware and Rolape play off each other beautifully, yet Mr. Ware generously concedes the “bigger” moments often enough that the evening is something of a showcase for Ms. Rolape, whose mercurial instincts and knack for hairpin physical and emotional transitions have never been more joyously displayed.
Le Petomane members are versatile and in-demand; and as various different projects compete for their attention, we are perhaps less likely to see the full crew in coming months. If other combinations deliver theatre as entertaining as Test Results, it is a happy hand of fortune that proves once again that the range and facility of the Le Petomane brand, now entering its tenth season, is firmly intact.
September 26-29; October 3-6
7:30 p.m. each night
Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble
At The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Tickets: $8-$20 on the usual Le Petomane sliding scale
Contact Us at LePetomane.org or (502)609-2520 for tickets.