The Blood Brothers Present . . . Bedlam Nightmares: Shock Treatments

by Ed Malin · May 9, 2014

Playwrights on New Plays #74 Ed Malin shares his thoughts on The Blood Brothers Present... Bedlam Nightmares:  Shock Treatments at the Brick

Scary theater just indicates someone is going to use psychology to push us out of our comfort zones, doesn't it?  I knew this when I sat in the front row at The Brick, a place known for innovative performance, and put on the spatter-preventing poncho.  Even armed with this knowledge, and being acquainted with the work of playwrights Nat Cassidy, Mariah MacCarthy, and Mac Rogers, I still learned something new at this installment of Blood Brothers Present Bedlam Nightmares Part Two: Shock Treatments.

The Blood Brothers (Pete Boisvert and Patrick Shearer; also the directors of this program) are two shaven-headed gentlemen wearing white makeup with sinister red-eye highlights.  They reside in a mental hospital, where Orderly Joe (J. Robert Coppola) and electrified collars keep them from repeating whatever horrible things they did to earn their sentence.  This is laid out in "Shock Treatments", the opening piece by Mac Rogers.  The Brothers also tie together the stories in this evening, all the while implying that the "normal" people who walk the streets are one step away from gratuitous savagery.

Nat Cassidy, also a fan of whiteface, plays the guitar and narrates "All In Good Fun, Part II", the story of Andre Grjivala's (John Hurley's) encounter with a merciless being in a dark place.

In "Leslie Gets A Puppy" by Nat Cassidy, two doctors (Timothy McCown Reynolds and C.I. Weatherstone) with very little empathy themselves are experimenting on Leslie (Ivanna Cullinan).  Seemingly bent on proving that Leslie is irredeemable, they hold out the possibility of forgiveness, but also trap Leslie into doing some gruesome things to some concealed house pets.  Leslie gets her chance to experiment on the doctors, though.

"Do You Like Doritos" by Mariah MacCarthy is the story of what Cathy (Rebecca Gray Davis), a doctor seen in the previous scenes, does in her free time.  In a cafe, she picks up a "Guy" (Bryan Enk) whom she drugs and restrains.  She and her roommate, Cynthia  (Lilli Stein) mutilate the "Guy" while practically ignoring him.  They are much more engrossed in their petty squabbles and conversation about Doritos.  The "Guy" does survive to eat Doritos another day, but may not be as successful at it as he once was.

In "#stabby"by Mac Rogers, an unfeeling psychopath has a lot of fun.  Joanna (Judy Merrick) doesn't mind the unrequited love of her friend Stretch (Bryan Enk) because she doesn't care about anyone. Her boyfriend, Dave (John Hurley), questions this, which leads Joanna to engage in more enjoyable emotional growth: she stabs him everywhere she can.  Her friends are on board with this, and encourage her to develop her talents by stabbing the landlord, Lucas (Marc Landers).  All of these accomplishments are tagged and tweeted by her friend Woodchuck (C.L. Weatherstone).  Joanna would have a hard time getting away with all this, and what happens next is a classic Mac Rogers take on the human condition.

This evening of Blood Brotherhood will not be the last.  Check for further blood spatter analysis at the Brick this August.  (Stephanie Cox-Williams is credited as Gore/Prop Designer.  Long may she reign.)

On that note, many of these plays seem concerned with what we can take away from a violent/pleasurable encounter.  Leslie the test subject wants to be forgiven.  Cathy and Cynthia the kidnappers collect certain body part trophies.  Joanna wants warm and bloody social media updates.  Without irony, these characters do horrible things which they can totally live with.  Something to think about, I suppose.  I admire the interlocking stories and hope to confront my desire for instant gratification a little better than some of the inmates.





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