Vatzlav Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 24 2014

Imagine The Tempest gone terribly, terribly wrong. In this absurd 1968 satire by Polish dissident playwright Slawomir Mrosek, the title character washes up, like Shakespeare's Ferdinand, on a strange island. Only where Ferdinand is a nobleman forced into slavery, Vatzlav is a slave who sees his chance to pose as a prince. The rest of the play is similarly inverted. Hell, it's more than inverted—it's perverse, with Caliban transmuted into a boy who decides to become a bear and Prospero played as a megalomaniacal pedophile who won't tell his daughter where babies come from but coaches her on how to do a striptease. (Oedipus pops up too.) Just about the only thing that doesn't seem extreme here is the depiction of rich folks as vampires. Presented full throttle by director Beata Pilch, Mrosek's Bizarro-World inventions can become tiresome. Still, there are some delightfully over-the-top moments—particularly from Ann Sonneville as a supremely disturbed mommy—and, translated by Ralph Manheim, the script itself is a timely sort of time capsule. —Tony Adler

Price: $20-$25, two for one on Sundays

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