Teach, Teacher, Teachest. Intar (see Off-Off Broadway). By David Koteles. Based on a play by Eugène Ionesco. Directed by Daniel Irizarry. With Irizarry, Laura Butler Riviera, Michael Leonard. Running time: 1hr 10mins. No intermission.
Teach, Teacher, Teachest: In brief
A woman receives increasingly bizarre instruction from a tutor in David Koteles's loose adaptation of Eugène Ionesco's dark absurdist comedy The Lesson. Daniel Irizarry directs and stars in this INTAR production.
Teach, Teacher, Teachest: Theater review by Helen Shaw
David Koteles has adapted Ionesco’s absurdist miniature The Lesson into Teach, Teacher, Teachest, and the result is rather hard to grade. The adaptation (made specially for Laura Butler Riviera and Daniel Irizarry’s One-Eighth Theater company) is itself anemic, making facile jabs at neoliberal semantics—but the ebullient actors run roughshod over criticism. Ridiculous, endearing and charismatic, the performers are lessons in and of themselves.
In a bizarre, eventually dangerous tutoring session, the Professor (mad-eyed Irizarry) shows the Student (Riviera) a flashcard of a poor person. “What is this? A taker!” he crows. He teaches her to construct superlatives: “Lie! Liar! Congress!” (These are not good jokes.) Slinking around the edges, the Maid (a cross-dressed Leonard) pampers the infantile Professor and gives the Student the stink-eye. Designer Susan Zeeman Rogers gives the trio a tiny jungle-gym house; costumer Aris Mejías dresses them as paper dolls that have been left out in the rain; as director, Irizarry creates violent, athletic dance breaks. The adorable effect is Pee-wee’s Playhouse with an anticorporate agenda. Still, I’m torn between admiring One-Eighth’s appetite for French classics (much of last season’s Ubu rocked) and wondering if this athletic, charismatic ensemble needs a more modern canvas—or at least a modern adaptor with his merde together.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE Virtuosic zaniness almost rescues a thin Ionesco adaptation.