BOTTOM LINE: A deliciously weird and satisfying hour tackling the obstacles of defining love, featuring Chaplin-esque videos and noir puppets.
Joe Mazza asks that dire, age-old question, one as unanswerable as it is timeless: What is love? With the help of his scrumptiously odd alter egos (puppet and human alike), Mazza's The Hyperbolist takes a satisfying couple of swings, and backhands, to try and find the answer.
Blustering in with hyper-lingual energy, Mazza welcomes each audience member individually with a very firm handshake. His silver-tipped Kewpie hair and blacked-out eyes evoke the cartoon villain from The Incredibles, while his hyperbolic ebullience, vocal range and black velour t-shirt conjure up Robin Williams-esque sentiments. And by the time the lights dim to introduce the first of an evening's worth of charming characters (a lovable tramp of the Charlie Chaplin variety), it seems as though this question of love will find, at the very least, an hour's worth of amusement with an interesting bedfellow.
Mazza's lot of lovelorn query-ers – four puppets, a rag, two fleas and a few humans, to be exact – all share in their quest a certain bitter disdain for the present state of affairs. Sex, to Mazza and friends, has taken a bit too grand of a step into the limelight, thrusting aside the true emotion and the natural order with sex at "love's right hand." On this note, the oddball bunch punchily postulate through the evening, illuminating this and that desire, reaching for the elusive reality of the "L" word. But it's with his grand finale, featuring fleas Dante and Florence, that Mazza most wonderfully and absurdly takes a final potshot at the new romantic order.
Likably over articulate and weird, Mazza delightfully questions the present pop-culture assertion about that beguiling and bewildering, definition-less emotion, offering his own bizarre but captivating take that's certainly worth a gander.
(The Hyperbolist plays at the The Red Room, 85 East 4th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, through March 6, 2011. Remaining performances are Saturday February 26th at 5pm, Sunday February 27th at 2pm, Wednesday March 2nd at 9:30pm, Friday March 4th at 6:30pm and Sunday March 6th at 5pm. Tickets are $15, $5 for students, seniors, and artists, and can be purchased at smarttix.com. For more festival information visit frigidnewyork.info.)