After over a decade of cultural dumpster diving on the Brooklyn bohemian fringe, Radiohole, New York's most deliriously debauched theater company, has babies to look out for. Two of the troupe's founding members, Erin Douglass and Maggie Hoffman, are recent moms, and the trademark bucket of beer, set out for the audience at each performance, is now accompanied by a plea for donations to their "Beers for Babies" fund. (They say the money goes for child-care, not kegs for kids.) So it makes a certain amount of sense for Radiohole, whose bracing productions are often accompanied by a chaser of self-referential surrealism, to take inspiration from the Eisenhower-era domestic melodramas of Douglas Sirk, namely his 1955 film All That Heaven Allows.
Cleverly titled Whatever, Heaven Allows, the show is very much of a piece with Radiohole's febrile, non-narrative aesthetic, which defies easy description. The evening begins with the frenzied, fascinating Eric Dyer grabbing a microphone and addressing the audience with a passage from John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, which might have been mesmerizing if some ingrate in the fourth row hadn't chosen that moment to rustle through a plastic bag for some all-important item. But it also illustrated what makes Dyer such an exciting performer; never one to ignore what's going on in the room, he paused, glaring furiously at the man, and finally sneered, "Got it?!"
At turns incantatory and indulgent, Whatever, Heaven Allows mixes colorful video projection with bizarro song and dance numbers, baffling non sequiturs, cocktail party chatter, mixed-gender wrestling, and a very, very loose, ironic re-enactment of the main plot points of Sirk's melodrama. Here, Milton's Eden is ironically transposed as an affluent '50s suburbia threatened by the Tree of Knowledge, in this case a widowed housewife's frowned-upon affair with her gardener. Hoffman has a hilarious solo rendition of "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar," while Joe Silovsky delivers a deliciously jittery portrait of latent homosexuality.
There are moments of great physical comedy (nobody runs laps around a theater like high-steppin' Eric Dyer) and Radiohole's signature obsession with gluttonous food splatter endures, though the first couple rows might want to bring ponchos for this installment of avant gallagher. The set is an eccentric constellation of technical gadgetry, but the overall effect feels a little superficial. We expect great things from Radiohole, having been transported by them in the past, but with Whatever, Heaven Allows, they seem to be lingering in limbo just a little bit.