by Joanna Furnans
Windfarm Series #2, Part 2, Rogue Buddha Gallery
"Cover Your Head and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye"- Mad King Thomas (Theresa Madaus, Tara King, and Monica Thomas)
A well frosted pink cake sat in the corner of the space and was (thankfully) cut and served to willing audience members. "Let them eat cake!" I assume Mad King Thomas was making an insightful comparison to our modern day administration's disregard for the country's needs (as determined by popular vote) to dear old Marie Antoinette's fateful mistake. The piece, "Cover your Head and Kiss your Ass Goodbye," was political. How do I know? Well, there were the heads of controversial political figures on stage (in a row actually…ready to line dance), there were classic plastic toy army figurines arranged atop playground sand (I'm thinking desert, I'm thinking Middle East), there was talk of Cowboys, there was an interrogation/torture scene, and last but not least Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."
There was also a Super Hero section in which Tara King (the Cowboy) coached the audience through a series of comic strip stills by asking us to close our eyes while Theresa Madaus and Monica Thomas re-arranged themselves, and then open our eyes to reveal a new "scene." King narrated for us, something having to do with a superhero wannabe who ultimately dies trying. Are we to believe they are really Super Heroes? Does it matter? How does this theme of super-human melodrama fit into the already established political climate? Let your imaginations run wild…if you dare/care.
The performances from Mad King Thomas were commanding, vulnerable, and generous respectively. The piece was a little rough around the edges which I can only assume is intentional given the messy sand, the trampled on army, and the backed into political heads. Was the deliberate set destruction a demonstration of power or control? How about an "I won't take this anymore" attitude? The piece ended with this notion of physical and psychological endurance. Each performer took her turn timing how long she could withstand the numbing pain of her fist resting in a bucket of ice water (while on leave from the on going Billy Joel line dance). This physical act made me squirm as I watched in awe. All cleverness aside, I was really moved by this test of will. I was entranced with Monica, in particular, as I watched her for signs of struggle, pain, surrender, strength and perseverance. Given the political context this was a wonderfully serious choice.
Great job Mad King Thomas. Can't wait to see what you generate next.