Binibon at the Kitchen: Murder ballad
Fri May 8 2009
Composer Elliott Sharp and writer Jack Womack's experimental theater piece, Binibon, is now playing at the Kitchen through Saturday, and it's a fairly compelling hybrid of new music and East Village nostalgia. Its subject is an infamous 1981 murder outside the titular bohemian caf, the night that lifetime criminal and best-selling author Jack Henry Abbott stabbed waiter Richard Adan to death. In a series of jazzy, lyrical monologues, we hear from a beloved waitress (Sonja Perryman), her junkie writer boyfriend (Ryan Quinn), a graffiti punk (Perryman) and a drag queen (Quinn). Abbott himself is portrayed in leather-jacketed, porn-'stached, psychopath cool by Jedidiah Schultz. And Joe Tapper plays both hepcat narrator Ted and the victim, Adan. The atonal music that plays over and under the 65 minutes of talk is sometimes atmospheric, sometimes chaotic and harsh. (John Zorn must have been an influence on Sharp.) Most interesting, the creators decided to omit any mention of novelist Norman Mailer, the man whose patronage of Abbott helped free him. Binibon is a coproduction with Beth Morrison Projects, the enterprising outfit that also gave us David T. Little's Soldier Songs. Related note: Little's opera-in-progress, Dog Days, will be excerpted as part of Carnegie Hall's Young Artists Concert at Zankel Hall Saturday night. Opera and music-theater continue to go off in wild new directions.