Blah Blah Blah, Asylum 137, at the Chopin Theatre, and My Impending Death, at the Chopin Theatre. The buffoonery of Asylum 137 falls somewhere between Grand Guignol and the Ringling Brothers, its whimsy often verging on performance art. Blah Blah Blah presents us with Mel, an insecure angel sent to fetch home a box, and Mr. Kroup, a devil who alternately encourages and dissuades her. By the time they part company, the shy Mel has learned to express her anger and assertiveness, the cynical Kroup has experienced remorse and affection, the box has been smashed and reassembled, and we have been chastised for our passivity.
Is there something in the box, a human soul perhaps? Is the box itself alive? Or is it simply an object of curiosity? Whatever our interpretation, the interactions between these two innocents, played by Noel Williams and Anthony Courser, keep us entertained for the show's 45 minutes.
If Mel and Kroup are children on a playground, rappin' reaper Morte le Grove (Shaw Nigro) is a bored adolescent stuck in his room. After a slide-show introduction and a Superman impression that includes much ricocheting off walls, he takes us through his day's activities: a confrontation with archenemy Leviathan (played by a fuzzy bear hand puppet), a split with his wife (played by a hat rack wearing a dress), a dinner date with an inflatable sex doll, and a scatological ballad or two.
"Defamiliarization" is a term applied by surrealists to the depiction of common objects in disorienting contexts. But many of Nigro's choices are precisely what we've come to expect from young actors engaging in found-object exercises. When Morte unwraps a candy bar, we know it will be smooshed instead of eaten. The props might be interesting--especially the cutout skeletons and the stuffed goose--but I was relieved when My Impending Death ended 20 minutes short of its announced running time.