Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Comic Book Theater Festival: Five Things

We seem to be going through a phase. And by "we", I don't actually mean "me". I mean people, or really, our culture seems to be going through a phase. We seem to be going through a phase in which in order for any sort of art to be taken seriously, awful things must happen in it. Even art for children! There is death and torture and apocalypse and dystopia of all stripes. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the gloom as much as the next person, but not, dear lord, to the exclusion of all else.

I am of the mind that qualities such as "charm" and "humor" and "good heartedness" are due for a comeback. I mean, they are certainly less plentiful than the gloomier ones, so doesn't that make them more valuable? Which brings me to Jillian Tully's play Five Things which is being presented as a part of the Brick's Comic Book Theater Festival. I saw it's premier performance yesterday afternoon and was thoroughly charmed by it.

On its surface, it's about terribly twee and simple things: a girl and her ukulele ode to Nathan Fillion, her genius, scientist cat who attempts to create a pair of opposable thumbs, a Fairy Dragmother, dates both bad and good, and tap dancing (done by the cat). But, like in Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books, the glittery surface is just a way of engaging larger ideas: those of identity and growing up and of making a real connection to other human beings. As always, in the spirit of full disclosure, Jillian is a friend, and her mode of communication is as much tap dance and pictures as it is words. The comic book aspect of the play is done through thought bubbles and signage of sound effects and wears it all lightly and well. As someone who loves comic books, but has pretty much zero interest in Superheroes, this was likely my sort of Comic Book Theater Festival show. It's very funny and sweet and well worth an hour or two of your life. There is science and romance and tap dancing. How many shows can one say that about, really?

Five Things
The Brick, 575 Metropolitan Ave. Brooklyn, NYC
There are three more performances: Sun 6/5, 6:30pm, Fri 6/10, 7pm, Sun 6/12, 6pm
Purchase tickets here

Below, see Jillian doing research for her role:

Top photo: Ruby (Jillian Tully) and the Girl (Sarah Eliana Bisman), photo credit Beth Hommel

Bottom photo: Ruby (Jillian Tully) communes with a civilian cat, photo credit Beth Hommel

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