I just saw “The Funeral Is Just The Beginning” by Invisible Suitor productions and overall, I thought it was pretty good. I give it three stars.  I would have given it four if the writer had adhered to the convention of having a plot.  Four and a half if that plot also included character development. And what really would have put it over the top for me into the five-star category is if it had had some zebra mussels in it.

The Blind Hallway Theater is so perfectly suited for a show about zebra mussels, it’s just a shame that they didn’t green-light my suggestion of having a midnight show there, technically outside of the Fringe, but still available in that Fringe location in case people wanted to stick around for something truly inventive. But sometimes it’s hard to get people to think outside of the box. In this case, it was impossible. Their loss.

Anyway, what I really liked about “Funeral” is that it started in a funeral parlor, but then ended somewhere way more optimistic– a fishing boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. Which, personally, felt like kind of an F-you to me, because there was one scene where all they did was talk about how much zebra mussels suck, and how you definitely wouldn’t want to find any on the bottom of your boat. Then they flipped the stage boat over and spent five solid, silent minutes inspecting the bottom of the boat for mussels. Subtle. Nuanced. Layered.

Three stars.

The thing I find so fascinating about the way zebra mussels reproduce is that it’s so passive. There is no sex drive there whatsoever. The males just release the sperm into the water, and somewhere farther down the current, the females inhale that water and bam– fertilized. They are so incredibly reproductively prolific! And yet, neither of them really gives a damn that the other is there at all.  I find that really inspiring.  My characters Melanie and Buzz were going to really embody that kind of enlightened relationship dynamic, and at the end the actors were going to crawl into these big paper mache zebra mussel costumes that a stagehand in a black leotard was going to wheel onstage, and then they were just going to sit there, inert, while we blasted “Shoop” by Salt N Peppa. It was going to be awesome. Truly.

But instead what we got was this Funeral show which was fine, but I don’t know if I really bought the whole transgender double reassignment thing because the guy changed his mind halfway into becoming a woman, and had to have 12 more surgeries to get changed back into a guy.  It didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything. And yet there was a standing ovation.

I think zebra mussels are totally misunderstood. They’re so hated, and yet basically they’re a peaceful creature. And they make any body of water they enter super clear.  What’s bad about that? Why penalize success?

Well anyway, other people really seemed to enjoy this Funeral show, for what it’s worth. So don’t listen to me, and my three-star review. Go see it yourself and learn the hard way. I won’t say I told you so.

But I’ll be thinking it.

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