By Larry Phillips; Directed by Ben Liebert
Produced by Randomly Specific Theater
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 3.3.18
Theatre 80 St. Marks, 80 St Marks Place
by Asya Danilova on 2.13.18
The cast of Koalas Are Dicks . Photo by Zoë Lintzeris.
BOTTOM LINE: This raunchy dark comedy starring a misunderstood marsupial is a merciless satire on the entertainment industry.
According to Koalas Are Dicks by Larry Phillips, everyone in Hollywood is an animal driven by the instincts to mate, indulge in vice, and make shitloads of money. Not unlike the Netflix show BoJack Horseman, this dark comedy stars a depressed animal that has had enough, but finds it difficult to break away. Beloved sitcom star Brody the koala (Peter Buck Dettmann) goes down the spiral of substance abuse and meaningless sex (with humans) to escape the TV world where he is treated like a prop, rather than as a creative individual.
Brody flees his widely popular show just 12 episodes before it goes to syndication and locks himself in a shady motel near LAX. Brody’s manager Ross (Patrick T. Horn) rushes to the rescue (of both the spoiled TV star and his own career) and finds ex-child star Davey (Larry Phillips) and incapable koala wrangler Hannah (Tiffany Mae McRae) both trying to control the animal gone wild. Soon enough, Brody’s co-star, name-dropping British actress Allison (Phoebe Leonard), shows up uninvited, followed by the hooker Shea (Griffin Hennelly), who is much anticipated, but not of the desired gender.
With the human zoo in full attendance, they each try to manipulate the marsupial to serve their own goals. While nobody can understand what Brody is saying, they manage to maintain a meaningful dialogue with him. A lot of jokes revolve around how the humans misinterpret Brody’s body language and continue to pursue their own agendas while pretending to be attentive to his “opinions.” But what is the point in listening until the end of the sentence if you don’t speak Koala? Most of the characters are too self-indulgent to even pretend to care, so this seems a little wobbly in the otherwise solid and well-structured play. But I guess in a world where koalas shoot up drugs and impregnate humans, they can’t be discarded so easily, especially if they are filthy rich.
The raunchy humor of Phillips’ writing is matched by Ben Liebert's dynamic direction, which gives a fine cast many opportunities to become physical. And with set designer Meg McGuigan's run-down hotel room, abundantly littered with bottles, bags of cocaine, and piles of clothes, it's all too easy to imagine the unseen puddles of booze and bodily fluids to which everyone refers. Koalas Are Dicks is a delight for those who are into rough adult humor with a hint of the absurd, especially if they despise show business. And the unexpected ending is truly rewarding and brings the one-note sitcom tone of the play to a new dramatic level.
(Koalas Are Dicks plays at Theatre 80 St. Marks, 80 St. Marks Place, through March 3, 2018. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7. Tickets are $32, and are available at koalasaredicks.com.)
Koalas Are Dicks is by Larry Phillips. Directed by Ben Liebert. Set Design by Meg McGuigan. Lighting Design by Erik Fox. Stage Manager is Kateryna Turkalo. Produced by Randomly Specific Theater.
The cast is Griffin Hennelly, Patrick T. Horn, Peter Buck Dettmann, Tiffany Mae McRae, Larry Phillips and Phoebe Leonard.