Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hell Met Henry and you should too.

Performance: Hell Meets Henry Halfway
Theater: Woolly Mammoth Theater, 641 D St, NW
Metro: Gallery Place-green/red or Archives/Navy Memorial-Green. Directions here.
Genre: An Existential Black Comedy
Cost: from $15 for people under 25. $15 rush seats sold 2 hours before curtain. Half price tickets (from $13) from Goldstar.
Dates: Through March 1
Rating: 3/5 Starving Artists

Last night Lady AWesome, two friends (shout-out to TK and MB) and I went to see the new show at Woolly, Hell Meets Henry Halfway. This show is a collaboration with Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theater Company, a part improv, part clowning, part theater company that started at Swarthmore in the 90’s. They were presenting their adaptation of Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz’s pulp drama Possessed. This English adaptation was devised by the Pig Iron Company, informed by the techniques of “master clown Jacques Lecoq, avant-guard director Joseph Chaikin, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and various contemporary dance companies (so says the program)

What does all this amount to? A 2 hour morsel of existentially goodness. It has some sweet moments, and some amusing performances. It has loads of quick witted dialogue, the point of which is to be pointless. It is chock-full of symbolic visuals, reminding us of the futility of life, the hells we create for ourselves, and the death of innocence. It has some great mime, and some excellent magic (most notably a mystical armoire, the contents of which change significantly each time the doors open.). The set is sparse but imposing. All told, if you like existentialism, you will dig this play.

If you are looking for a good show to see, that isn’t too expensive, then I’d recommend this one. It does not leave you Waiting For it to be Godover (that was a sad attempt at an existentialist theater joke and I am sorry), but nor are you wising it was longer. It’s not the best thing showing in town, but it’s worth catching. I’d give it 3/5 on my scale of Starving Artists.


  1. Just a warning to potential audience members: this show is more pretentious than other Woolly productions. Also, if you don't like existential theater, take caution. The show provokes interesting discussion but if that's not your scene, don't try to force it.

  2. Well said, Lady AWesome. I wholehartedly agree.


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