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A CurtainUp Review
by Les Gutman
The musical, Urinetown, famously, was a Fringe show that focused on a particular toilet function and, along the way, was also a clever sendup of the musical theater genre. It found its way from its humble origins to Broadway. Greg Kotis wrote its book and co-wrote its lyrics; John Rando directed.
Kotis has now returned with this play, also directed by Rando, which deals with a different toilet function, and is intended to parody a host of well-known plays. Pig Farm didn't start at the Fringe; instead, the Roundabout Theatre installed it directly in its major Off-Broadway house. To say that it should find its way to the Fringe is, frankly, an insult to even the most questionable Fringe offerings.
Pig Farm lasts two hours, and has two acts. In the first, there are five scenes. At the end of the first of these scenes, I thought the play was silly but fun. Tom (John Ellison Conlee) is a struggling but dedicated pig farmer who hates the government because of its intrusions into his business. His wife, Tina (Katie Finneran), resents pig farming because she wants a baby and Tom is too busy to be bothered. Tim (Logan Marshall-Green) is their young hired hand, on work release from juvie hall. As they wait for an inspection visit from an EPA representative, Teddy (Denis O'Hare), Tom has Tim counting the pigs -- there are about 15,000 of them -- while he dumps the pigs' fecal sludge in the river. All three of them seem to have been dropped on their heads as babies and, in case you haven't realized it yet, everyone in the play has a name that starts with "T".
As the subsequent scenes unfold, the adjectives that come to mind change to tedious, uninspired, redundant and then to boring and just annoying. One can't help but think of the sketches that were once performed on The Carol Burnett Show and its spinoff, Mama's Family, or Chris Durang's short play that parodies Sam Shepard (which was contained in an evening of such plays at MTC a number of years ago under the title Durang, Durang). Kotis and Rando, who share the guilt for this horrible enterprise with the Roundabout, should have stopped while they were ahead.
One cannot help but notice that the cast of Pig Farm includes four of the top actors working on the New York stage. All of their talent is wasted here. The designers have done exemplary work creating the environment for this travesty, and Steve Rankin's fight choreography is as good as it gets. All for naught.
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