BWW Reviews: Start The REVOLUTION IN THE ELBOW OF RAGNAR AGNARSSON FURNITURE PAINTER Without Me
When an attempt at musical theatre is as inept and lacking in basic craft as Ivar Pall Jonsson's pitiful stab at allegorical whimsy, Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter, there's really no sense in expending much energy to crank out a full description of the tedious display.
Unlike the occasional Broadway misfire that arouses the morbid "I've gotta see this" curiosity of playgoers desiring a good cocktail hour story, Revolution is the kind of forgettable bore that would inspire those who wish to encourage the writers of new, original musicals to hand its author an application to the BMI workshop, where he might learn how to select the proper moments to musicalize so that the story advances instead of lying limp and why lyrics like, "This is the game we are playing / You'd better hear what I'm saying," are unacceptable.
Director Bergur Ingolfsson's production has audience members entering the theatre immediately face-to-crotch with a large projection of the title character, a slovenly-looking fellow slumbering with his legs spread wide and his hands occasionally scratching himself.
Agnarsson's body, we're told, is a world of tiny communities with names like Texass... I'll repeat that. Texass... and Knee York. However, the authors here are more concerned with Elbowville.
The bookwriter/composer/lyricist teamed with his brother, Gunnlauger Jonsson, to create the story; a commentary on their native Iceland's 2008 financial collapse, though musical theatre scholars will recognize it as the second act of How Now Dow Jones.
An entrepreneurial young lad (Marrick Smith) invents a prosperity machine that prints up promissory notes to stimulate the economy of the lobster-fishing village, with the expected results. The talents of Tony-winner Cady Huffman (What the hell is she doing in this?) are nearly fully wasted in her underwritten and unfunny role as the sexy and corrupt mayor.
Another terrific musical theatre pro, Kate Shindle, is also wasted in the small role of a woman married to a man with enormous shoulders. The leaden rock score includes a duet where Huffman and Shindle belt their faces off at each other.
This is one revolution that will definitely not be televised.