By Crystal Skillman, from the comic by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey
June 23, 28 and 29 and July 1, 2011
part of The Comic Book Theater Festival
The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn
…but you already knew you’d attend, so as not to miss one of indie comics’ most refreshing hits adapted by one of indie theater’s most surprising playwrights.
It’s definitely given not the Watchmen silly-putty transfer but the Ghost World transformation, with the comics’ witty cumulative narrative rewoven in a bizarre and brilliant mandala of crisscrossing significance and providential punchlines.
Dramatist Skillman and director John Hurley assemble and ignite an opera-buffa A-list, especially living kinetic sketchpad Neimah Djourabchi as an antic yet entranced Bodhidharma, scorched-earth self-satirist Joseph Mathers as a shambling Marx and Jesus — and only the infrared emotional spectrum of Kelley Rae O’Donnell could power a performance of heartbreaking hilarity like the one she gives here portraying the indelible pain and colossal folly of Ayn Rand.
Every now and then the rhythm is a bit careful and the momentum trails off compared to Skillman’s unerringly manic originals, but when you’re adapting some of history’s most influential thinkers, as previously adapted by someone you’re married to, these spots are worth a second guess, and a second look.
In one great high-Python moment a mournful, sibilant Sartre shows up to shut down the Action with his power-dampening field and Chris Marker delivery. All that’s missing is an end-title teaser scene of O’Donnell returning as Simone de Beauvoir to plot vengeance — but it’s not too late, since philosophers are the type you’ve never heard the last of.