Heft & Worth

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Last night I went and saw “The Slug Bearers of Karol Island - or, the Friends of Dr. Rushower”, a musical at the Vineyard Theatre.  I hate-no, truly hate-musicals, so this was a huge step for me.

Why’d I go?  Primarily because the play was done by Ben Katchor.  He’s an illustrator who I believe also teaches at Parsons.  He scores points in my books simply for coming up with a weekly strip with the title “Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer.”

So why was this play worth seeing?  Well, Katchor designed the play so that his illustrations were projected onto screens rather than having set changes; it truly felt like you were living in a comic (see the NY TImes’ review here).  Also, the libretto was completely absurdist, leading to some truly memorable lines.

The play itself was a preposterous story of the dark side of globalization: all the plastic machines we use contain lead slugs to give them “heft & worth”; the slugs themselves are handled by poorly treated stevedores on Kayrol Island.  This leads to all sorts of great songs, including a man waxing poetic on the joys of archaic machinery.

Truly brilliant; if it travels to your town be sure to check it out.

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