On Thursday, November 7th, I saw the New Ohio Theatre's production of Tennessee Williams' The Mutilated. Before seeing the show, I did my fair share of googling and quickly found out that not only is The Mutilated widely considered to be one of Williams' most bizarre and overlooked plays, but this is New York City's first revival of the play in 38 years. Apparently, when The Mutilated was first performed on Broadway in 1966, it was not well received by audiences because it was considered too experimental. Audiences preferred Williams' older and more reliable plays like A Streetcar Named Desire. What is it about The Mutilated that rubbed so many people the wrong way? In an 1965 interview in Esquire Magazine, Williams describes The Mutilated as "kin to vaudeville, burlesque and slapstick, with a dash of pop art thrown in."
I enter the theatre and my mouth drops at the sight of the set, bright pink lights bordering the walls. I feel like I'm in a hip underground club from another time. If that's not cool enough, there's a live jazz band on stage. I sit down, and instead of the lights dimming immediately, the jazz band continues to play for us for, like, fifteen minutes! Right when I begin to wonder, "Where am I, a jazz club or a theatre?", the actors come dancing on to the stage, drinking, and twirling to the music.
For me, the music really made the event. Throughout the show, the actors would periodically freeze and make way for a chorus of New Orleans residents who would serenade us about life at the time. I consulted my trusty playbill to find that the music in the show was composed by Jesse Selengut and performed with his talented band, Tin Pan.
The Mutilated is by no means a musical, although it certainly felt that way at times. However, if what I witnessed was simply a play, it was like no play that I've ever seen. The Mutilated was an experience.
The Mutilated @ New Ohio Theatre, thru Dec. 1