Mad King Thomas, by Megan Mayer

MKT performance at Pleasure Rebel 4/30/14

Let me begin by saying I don’t like change. As inevitable and essential as it is, I often dread it. I am fond of things enduring and remaining comfortably predictable. So when I heard that Mad King Thomas was about to spread out across the country for separate reasons and make work in new ways with each other, I took my seat already choked up and with a somewhat heavy heart.

Their separate, intentional, funereal procession from the basement, in black clothing, their faces veiled and illuminated by a single candle, made me think of Luciana Achugar’s recent OTRO TEATRO work. Both works spoke to loss and separation and the dismantling of existing structures both external and self-imposed.

Some images that are sticking with me:

Theresa belting out “All by myself”, her face and neck straining from the effort. Under the lights she morphed out of herself and into some other creature, then back again. Singing over a recording, insistent, marking her own territory in new ways within a familiar scene.

Monica simultaneously smiling and sobbing glamorously on a cleverly constructed tall pedestal, her gown cascading down and around her, followed by her pulling glitter and sequins out of her underwear and tossing them over herself and onto the stage.

Tara, always calm and steady, a murderous, authoritative edge in her voice, stating advice and instructions on how to leave town without a trace. Her speech felt dangerous, looming, suicidal, at once brazen and calculated.

I was acutely aware of how disparate their sections were and noticed the distance and separation among the three. I liked the voices coming from different parts of the theater: the foot stompings coming up the side stairs into the house, Tara speaking from the booth in the back of the house giving direction (“Theresa! Monica needs a mic!”). Clever, effective foreshadowing of MKT’s future through geography.

Theresa’s humorously slow progression across the stage to hand Monica the microphone was extra-dramatic, visually referencing their All Sparkles, No Heart with gold fabric as an Oscar statue.

Theresa nonchalantly vacuuming Monica’s glitter-litter costumed in a gold lame bandeau top and gold lame hot pants while Monica loomed above on the pedestal in her gown. At first this image seemed innocuous and incongruous and made me grin. They were both in character and themselves. Then it made me think of someone trying on a wedding dress in a swanky bridal shop while the lowly assistant silently cleaned up their mess. It made me think about class and power. It made me think of how David Letterman supposedly has his chair elevated several inches above his guest’s. It made me think about how these two have been roommates as long as I’ve known them and how this scene of a mundane chore is likely lifted directly from their living situation.

A tripod only functions well with three legs. These three have balanced each other and held up their individual portions fiercely over the years that I have watched their work develop. Sways have been righted quickly by the whole. Long Live the King. Their tripod legs are about to get a lot longer.

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