Review: Hot Lunch Apostles
A traveling troupe of zanies try religious drama.
Tue Mar 13 2012
Photograph: Darien Bates
Hot Lunch Apostles
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5
At its intermittent best and more frequent worst, the Talking Band's Hot Lunch Apostles is kind of a freak show. At first, it's literally so: Before the play proper starts, we mill around a dark "fairground" where the Test-Your-Strength man out-screams the boy selling pretzels. Bombarded by strange acts, we begin to anticipate the main event, the revival of Sidney Goldfarb's 1983 burlesque drama. But oh, you carnival barkers, how you break our hearts. Once we're ushered to our seats, nothing will rival this preshow chaos. Onstage, our sideshow titillation decays into the discomfort of watching the Talking Band's once-fresh style going stale.
In a desperate future, a traveling degradation revue offers cheap thrills like nudie acts and a garbage-eating geek. We meet the troupe just as impresario Barney (Loudon Wainwright) has decided there's money in playing souped-up liturgical drama, so the ensemble alternates between stripping down for oral sex (the titular "hot lunch") and buttoning up to play Pharisees. The disconnect, of course, troubles the company—starting with Rod (Jack Wetherall), who is used to playing in a loincloth, just not as Jesus. "Dated" does not begin to convey how strongly the smell of 1983 hangs in the air, particularly in Goldfarb's Clockwork Orange--indebted neologisms, the wandering clarinetist-accompanist and Paul Zimet's increasingly weary direction. There's an intriguing aggression about graphic acts performed by people who first did them nearly 30 years ago, but even Tina Shepard's awesomely scary full monty can't resurrect a piece that's been entombed far longer than just three days.