By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
A few blocks away, at Son of Semele Theater, Circle X Theatre Company presents Casey Smith’s one-man show, Violators Will Be Violated, late on weekend nights. In fact, you can see both productions on the same night, with time for dinner between presentations, as both theaters are less than a quarter of a mile from each other. I did just that, an experience that filled me with renewed hope for the vitality and purpose of L.A. theater: Both shows employed vigorous imaginations and a vivacious skepticism, and both were sold out.
Smith is insane. He enters in a plaid shirt and calf-length trousers, carrying a wooden stool. He has cropped silver hair, and as he ambles across the stage like a poet about to settle in for a night of lyrical rumination, he bares his teeth, rolls his eyes in their sockets, revealing unfettered dementia, and screeches like a macaw, a blood-curdling sound that he enjoys to no end. You can see this in the delight with which he glares at the crowd before screeching again. By the time the sketch is over, Smith is humping the stool.
Nobody with an iota of self-restraint or self-respect would put on a show like this, another with hardly a word spoken. In a sequence of 17 brief sketches, Smith portrays a female teenager stripping, presumably on some porn site. Again, the teeth, the demented eyes, the maniacal grin. Another includes a ballet, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, during which Smith handles a mimed electric carving knife, with which he accidentally severs his own head. We see him desperately grasping at his neck, imagined blood cascading down his torso as he contorts in paroxysms of agony. He collapses, with his upper body hidden by a curtain, his stomach and legs splayed, as The Nutcracker plays on for about two more minutes.
This is an evening about the fine art of self-destruction — the hurled javelin of a decathlon athlete returns to gore him, a tossed discus returns to plow into his skull — culminating in the image of a man on a toilet, imprisoned by his own unstoppable bowel movement. His personal sewage fills the room. He tries flushing, and we see, through his hand movements, his relief as the crap subsides for a moment before backing up and rising ever higher, until what appears before us, in vivid tableau, is the frozen face of a man drowned in his own shit. This is Smith’s answer to Michelangelo’s David, an homage to our times, as puerile and self-absorbed as we are. I loved every minute of it.
HAMLET SHUT UP! | Conceived and directed by JONAS OPPENHEIM, from the tragedy by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE | SACRED FOOLS THEATRE COMPANY, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood | Through December 17 | (310) 281-8337, sacredfools.org
VIOLATORS WILL BE VIOLATED | Created and performed by CASEY SMITH | Presented by CIRCLE X THEATRE COMPANY at SON OF SEMELE THEATER, 3301 Beverly Blvd., L.A | Through December 19 | circlextheatre.org