Fabulous Prizes

Three years ago, the avant-garde Satori Group relocated here from Cincinnati. Its new show takes place in a building slated for deep-bore tunnel demolition, to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Unlike most experimental theater, often throwing spaghetti at the wall, local playwright Neil Ferron’s Fabulous Prizes feels like the Ph.D testing of a calculated hypothesis about what “works” on the human consciousness. On its surface, Fabulous Prizes is a recognizable, if odd, story: Failed restaurateur Julius (Nathan Sorseth) lives shut-in style with his son, Arthur (Quinn Franzen). Beyond their tiny apartment, Walter (Anthony Darnell) is their bridge to the outside world, shopping for them and relaying mail that never includes what they’re waiting for—a vindicating review from a Guide Michelin critic who, 28 years prior, attended the opening of Mirandaria, the restaurant named for Julius’ wife (who ran away on that fateful night). What instead follows is hostage-taking, tenderness, unexpected poetry (“You can’t touch a woman ‘til she is blinded by a falling helicopter”), and disturbing self-subjugation (as when someone duct-tapes his own face). The effect is psychological, not rational, something like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Echoes of Miss Havisham-like parenting, The Manchurian Candidate, and transvestite disco glamour swirl into a maelstrom that feels kitschy, deep, intense, and eerily true, however improbable. Behold the magic of theater, straight from the test tube. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Mondays, Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: May 6. Continues through May 30, 2011

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