Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Company One Presents The New England Premiere of "Shockheaded Peter" - A Cult Classic That Is Not My Cup Of Tea

Alexandria King as MC
"Shockheaded Peter"
Company One

I had a very unusual experience this weekend as I attended Company One's production of "Shockheaded Peter"; I seemed to be the only person in the audience not enthralled by the play.  Based on a 150 year-old German book intended to get kids to behave by scaring the Bejeezus out of them, this musical play seeks to throw a harsh light on the bizarre child rearing practices of that bygone era.  The set design, puppetry, music, acting are all terrific.  But for me, the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

At the end of the day, this is a play that glorifies infanticide while attempting to poke fun at it.  It has become a cult favorite, but I am apparently one of the few not initiated or inculcated into that particular cult.  I do not enjoy the bizarre, the macabre, the grotesque. Perhaps this is why I also hated the current Off-Broadway production of "Nevermore," a Tim Burtonesque telling of the story of Edgar Allan Poe.  When my kids were little, I can recall not wanting them to buy the packs of cards of the Garbage Pail Kids that were sold at the checkout counters of our favorite grocery store.  "Shockheaded Peter" felt like the Garbage Pail Kids set to music that accompanied the bizarre variety of death scenes that were visited upon a parade of naughty children.

The musical will run through April 4 at the Suffolk University Modern Theatre.  You may very well like it more than I did.  It won an Olivier Award when it played in London, and most audience members this past weekend gave it an enthusiastic standing ovation.  So  am clearly filing a minority report here.

Presented by Company One
Created for the stage by Julian Courch and Phelim McDermott
Original music and Lyrics by The Tiger Lillies
Adapted from Heinrich Hoffmann’s The Struwwelpeter
Music Direction by Walter Sickert
Directed by Steven Bogart
Featuring Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
March 6 – April 4, 2015
Modern Theatre at Suffolk University
525 Washington Street Boston, MA
Company One on Facebook
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys on Facebook

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