The former home of the 3 Legged Dog theater company was destroyed during 9/11, but the scrappy group hustled funds and emerged as downtown’s first real triumph of the reconstruction. Their sleek, futuristic new “Art and Technology Center” (theirs for the low, low price of $4.8 million bones) is just down the street from the World Trade Center maw. And they now have two much-buzzed about shows running in tandem: Losing Something, which uses a dazzling new technology called Eyeliner to create 3-dimensional holographic images of actors, and The Curse of the Mystic Renaldo The, a zany late-night rock n’ roll vaudeville extravaganza that plays on Fridays and Saturdays.
The two shows are tonal opposites save one essential element: charismatic actor/musician Aldo Perez, who, on weekends, dashes from his lead performance in the contemplative Losing Something over to the smaller theater, where he dons his alter ego, assassinated aristocrat Renaldo The. (Perez developed the character in collaboration with playwright Will Eno.) The show is loosely inspired by a 1927 silent black-and-white film “unearthed” by workers during construction of the new theater. The sumptuous “restored” film is projected on a scrim in front of the little stage as the show begins; in it a browbeaten valet (Richard Ginocchio) and the maid (Jenny Lee Mitchell) he loves conspire to kill their master Renaldo The. But Renaldo The won’t die, and as the film sputters out, the live actors bust out into three dimensions to further their absurd and incomprehensible designs.
Perez’s playhouse proudly flaunts narrative and realism to create a consistently surprising kaleidoscope of absurdity. In the same subversive spirit of Richard Foreman, The Curse of the Mystic Renaldo The defies succinct description; freed from such vagaries as plot, Renaldo The and servants dash off in countless delirious directions: there’s swinging live rock, hilarious vaudevillian slapstick, both high and low art-fucking, incorrigible ribaldry and one hell of a nose flute solo. It all adds up to marvelous popcorn-munching, beer-cracking fun with a capital FU, executed with a professionalism that typically eludes other late night theater ventures. In my years of New York theatergoing there are a proportionately tiny number of shows I’d eagerly see again; maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the aristocratic Renaldo The should belong to that elite club.
The Curse of the Mystic Renaldo The continues through April 28th, Fridays & Saturdays only, at 3LD Art & Technology Center [80 Greenwich St]. Tickets cost $20.