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A CurtainUp Review A History of Heen (Not Francis E. Dec, Esq.)
by Les GutmanRelative to previous attempts at explosion, this attempt will have a greater degree of heat. The little hairs on our hands may get singed off. It is our sincere hope, however, that given sufficient time, we may be able to forge together the holes of many separate hole breeding sources into one great hole, erupting into a great ball of flame and emitting a full spectrum of noise; we will then dub this a PERFORMANCE.
There is no shortage of plays that purport to explore the inner workings of the mind of a wacko, but few -- actually, none -- have taken the road on display here. A History of Heen (Not Francis E. Dec, Esq.) is a celebration of the life of Dec, who has been described as "the most important paranoid schizophrenic kook of the century". A very fancy aural landscape, which plays with words and sounds as if they are toys, is the means by which the three artists responsible for this effort detach the audience from the sanctuary of its sanity. Carefully-hewn, engaging performances belie any notion this is a seat-of-the-pants operation. A perverse sense of humor off-puts but doesn't undercut the chronicle of a 20th Century phenomenon that can't be relegated to the margins.
Dec was, briefly in the Fifties, a lawyer, jettisoned from the profession early on for forgery, larceny and fraud. He landed in the world of conspiracy theorists, with special emphasis in media conspiracies. "The same worldwide mad deadly communist gangster computer god that controls you is a terrorized gangster Frankenstein earphone radio parodying puppet." Dec may not have been successful in recruiting followers with this sort of rant, but by the 1980's, he had plenty of fans, thanks in large part to KROQ radio (Los Angeles) personality Doc on the ROQ. Doc recorded a number of Dec's flyer-propogated manifestos. In addition to lots about the computer god, there's one about the pasteurized milk conspiracy, something having to do with pork intestines and a particularly explicit section explaining how FDR had his unbeatable rival Will Rogers exterminated. A grand finale of "You'll Never Walk Alone" seems utterly apt.
This is the last of this summer's Emerging Artist Series (EAS) at The Performing Garage, and has been extended -- for good reason -- for two extra weeks. EAS is geared to uncovering new practitioners of the kind of interdisciplinary and multi-media arts that are The Wooster Group's raw material. Dyer, Gillette and Hoffman are ground zero. Dyer, who seems to be the principal author, is also a set and lighting designer, and a sculptor. Gillette is a set, lighting and sound designer as well as a performer, and seems to be principally responsible for what we hear. He is the technical director of the Times Square New Years's celebration. Hoffman (also known as MC Maggie-Tronic) is an electronic musician. This is not the last we are likely to hear from any of them.
For downtown theater denizens, this rates close to a must-see; for everyone else, as a much-needed ball of fire in an otherwise pretty dreary summer. Don't worry; you won't get singed.
©Copyright July 1999, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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