Sturm und Durang

To heck with James Cameron and his Leo-centric fantasy about the doomed ocean liner Titanic. In Christopher Durang’s stage version of the story, about to set sail (but hopefully not sink) in an Artists' Theatre Project production, we’re seated far from the captain’s table with Richard and Victoria Tammurai and their adult child, Teddy, who’s dressed as a child in short pants. By the time we discover that Teddy is, in fact, not Richard’s son but rather the result of a quick tryst that Victoria once had with a hobo -- and that the couple’s daughter was actually born not to Victoria but to her sister, Harriet, with whom Richard was having an affair (“You only thought you gave birth!” Richard squeals. “Harriet and I did it with mirrors”) -- we are floating serenely through Durang at his whacked-out best.

Not to mention his most naughty. In a recent interview, the playwright referred to Titanic as “definitely the most X-rated of my plays, and the most difficult to stage.” Durang isn’t referring to any special-effects challenges, though, because the Titanic in this story never sinks. In fact, the cacophony of the ship crashing into an iceberg turns out to be a sound-effects record played by the captain’s unstable wife, who’s eventually buried at sea following a double gay wedding. It’s all very Durang.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 11. Continues through Jan. 27, 2008

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela