Even transposed from 19th-century St. Petersburg to the urban wilderness of modern-day Los Angeles, Dostoevsky's hilariously unforgiving novella about the extremes of self-consciousness proves an excruciating roller-coaster plunge into hairpin-turned self-abasement. In this Zombie Joe–adapted musical abbreviation (adroitly directed by Josh T. Ryan), Michael Blomgren vividly brings Dostoevsky's self-lacerating antihero to life with a Rupert Pupkin–like intensity. Blomgren portrays a maniacally misanthropic member of the black-fingernail-polish demimonde — a narcissistic, North Hollywood slacker “violently and shamefully aware,” whose depths of self-pity and supreme pettiness are both paralytic and bottomless. Those depths reach their comic heights in the deranged contest of wills between the protagonist and his dourly laconic manservant, Apollo (a slyly understated TJ Alvarado). Leif La Duke, Julie Bermel and Chelsea Rose cannily caricature the dinner–reunion scene as an agonized study in nouveau riche Hollywood vulgarity, while Jenna Jacobson injects a note of aching pathos as the prostitute Liza. Ryan sets the proceedings into ironic relief with wittily staged renditions of existential rock & roll brooders such as Joy Division's “Atmosphere” (Alvarado), Daniel Johnston's “Devil Town” (Bermel, Jacobson, Rose) and Pink Floyd's “Hey You” (Jacobson and Alvarado). Zombie Joe's Underground, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo; Fri., 8:30 p.m.; through March 1. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.
Fridays, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 22, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., March 1, 8:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 11. Continues through Feb. 8, 2013
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