three out of four stars
There’s a wily conceit operating by “Coyote. Badger. Rattlesnake”– Buntport Theater’s entertaining unique manufacturing. Cecily the coyote — one third of a museum diorama’s fauna trio — has been despatched out for a makeover. Some pests scavenged her and her return, whereas important, is just not clearly imminent.
Glenn and Carroll work facet by facet within the diorama, which can also be getting a revamp. They craft pretend grasses, create a protruding rock formation that provides dimension to the museum show, and organize the aforementioned badger and rattler of their ersatz habitat.
Theirs is just not probably the most collegial of partnerships. Hannah Duggan and Brian Colonna painting the bickering coworkers. Carroll’s wound a bit tight. She’s vulnerable to anxious huffing (“Cecily is lacking an excellent portion of her face!”) and loud disquisitions on taxidermy, as an example. Glenn’s genial if a bit of lax on particulars. Was his snack the invitation nibbling vermin wanted to enter the diorama?
Created in collaboration with native playwright Ellen Okay. Graham, “Coyote. Badger. Rattlesnake” consists of 14 seriocomic vignettes separated by 14 pauses, a dimming of the lights and minuscule set adjustments. The turning down of the lights is a part of the present’s genius. It provides emphasis to Glenn’s or Carroll’s ultimate phrase or gesture — be it absurd, ruminative or each. If you’re gleaning a “Godot” vibe within the set-up, that’s doubtless OK.
Throughout these breaks, two employees arrive within the not-quite-darkness so as to add tile-size chunks of set to the ground in entrance of the diorama’s beckoning backdrop of mountains and sky, prairie grasses and scrub. (Firm member Erik Edborg is accountable for the beautiful canvas that hangs from the rafters.)
Performed by Erin Rollman and Edborg, the duo seem within the present’s credit as “Stagehands.” Take into account this additional proof of Buntport’s slightly meta-antics. Sure, they’re stagehands. They’re additionally characters in a play in regards to the staging of the “fake-real.” Stealthily, they add props, rearrange them or by chance tip one thing over and rush off. Like Glenn and Carroll, they chat and disagree. Over the course of the play (there isn’t a intermission), their interstitial philosophizing calls for increasingly of the viewers’s consideration.
Wit, deft timing and twists — bodily and linguistic — are signature stuff at Buntport. “Coyote. Badger. Rattlesnake” has an abundance. It additionally has a couple of selection issues to say — or at the least I used to be vaguely conscious it did — about “actual fakeness” and “pretend realness” because the present’s program teasingly places it.
So, a phrase in regards to the viewers. The ensemble composed of the 4 performers and firm mainstay SamAnTha Schmitz is in its 19th 12 months and has garnered a deserved and appreciative following. Nearly as quickly as Colonna and Duggan arrived on stage opening night time, they had been met with titters and guffaws, which continued to punctuate not solely the amusing riffs however at instances the extra considerate interludes. I’m not one to guage individuals for his or her pleasures, however I couldn’t assist however surprise if this made newcomers to Buntport really feel like they weren’t fairly in on a joke. The ensemble’s agile wit is commonly outright humorous. Simply as typically, there’s one thing extra nuanced at play of their askew imaginative and prescient of issues. The stability in “Coyote. Badger. Rattlesnake” proved barely elusive.
It might be churlish to complain about Buntport’s steadfast craft and dependable cleverness. Their work is oh-so-canny — with the occasional burst of brilliance. And this present is swift and entertaining. I’d simply hate to see the corporate trapped in a stunning diorama of its personal making.
Should you go
“Coyote, Badger, Rattlesnake.” Via Dec. 22. Created by Buntport and Ellen Okay. Graham. That includes Brian Colonna, Hannah Duggan, Erin Rollman and Erik Edborg with SamAnTha Schmitz. 717 Lipan Road. Tickets: $15-$20. 720-946-1388 or buntport.com