BWW Reviews: TEACH, TEACHER, TEACHEST Electrifies Ionesco
In the new absurdist comedy, Teach Teacher, Teachest, One-Eighth Theater and INTAR Theatre sets Ionesco against Lazy Town and other pre-school aimed shows with highly entertaining results. Director/actor/acrobat Daniel Irizarry keeps the pace speedy and dangerous as he leads the acrobatic, and hilarious ensemble, zipping through Ionesco's The Lesson in a thrillingly funny and scarily contemporary adaptation by David Koteles.
Through a series of thrilling games led by a manic Professor (a charismatic and clowning Izizarry), an art Student (a wide eyed and game Laura Butler Rivera) learns how to conform to an odd conservative standard, updating the Nazi undertones of the original. These sketch-like lessons include a Lady Gaga dance sequence, a game of flashcards that showed a cartoon soldier as both a freedom fighter and an insurgent, and a smashing conclusion that resonates with the entire audience (tarp included).
The lessons in extreme social conservatism are so catchy and dazzingly designed, it is impossible not to get entranced by them in this hour and a half tilt-o-whirl. The games are devised with athletic blocking by Iziarry, hilarious sound effects and a dancable soundtrack (Marcelo Añez is the sound designer), resourceful, pop-concert lighting by Lucrecia Briceno on a circus-like playground of a set by Susan Zeeman Rodgers (who also designed the cartoony, colorful objects) that is just full of surprises, quirks, and innovations including hidden traps and a mini trampoline. The electric colors ran deep into the eye-popping costumes by Aris Mejías that invoke something in between Fairly Odd Parents and Doodlebops.
The ensemble swings, bounces, and dashes at a supercharged pace. The tone is set as the audience enters the theatre where Michael Leonard as the Maid is already keeping house with swagger, and grace. This character pops in and out of the show leading us to a surprisingly grounded resolution. Softer moments like this and a tense tea party serve as cool-downs to the kinetic frenzy that charges the majority of the piece.
Teach, Teacher, Teachest runs through October 5th at INTAR (500 West 52nd Street, at Tenth Avenue, on the 4th Floor). For more information, visit www.intartheatre.org.