Created by Anne Waldman
"Make a bodhisattva vow: Harm no sentient being!"
The 2009 off-off Broadway play, Red Noir, written by poet Anne Waldman and staged by legendary actress, writer, and director Judith Malina at the ripe old age of 83, revolved around the exploits of hot shot NTC pseudo-private eye/femme fatale RUBY.
Or something. More than one critic deemed it "tough to follow."
It was presented at The Living Theatre, a radical political theatre troupe that rose to prominence in New York City and Paris during the 1950s and 60s, and which was co-founded by Malina.
The almost single-entendre title should be a clue. Billed as "a Buddhist Anarchist detective thriller, set in the shadows of the Lower East Side," this experimental piece of communal theatre was allegedly derived from "the metaphors of film noir and gangster movies." The promos promised, among other things, "a black market deal," "a glamorous detective," "a valise containing danger," "a rogue lab technician" and "a chorus of anarchists" hoping to bring "sanity and peace to a world of strife and struggle."
What it apparently was mostly about, though, was "visionary theatre that lets the audience and players collaborate to defeat evil."
In other words, you either "got" it or you didn't. A lot of people didn't.
It kicked off with Ruby (played by actress and the show's musical director Sheila Dabney) in a glamorous red dress being handed a wooden gun, which she waves around as she speaks into the phone. She's charged with tracking down a corporate flunky who's skipped, taking a suitcase with him that contains something very, very valuable, but ends up chasing down not one, but two men, each carrying a valise. The first suitcase contains something not only valuable, but also very dangerous, possiby a nuclear or toxic substance (shades of Kiss Me Deadly!); the other contains "the seeds of the future."
But wait! Just in case you thought the metaphors and symbolism were being laid on a little thick, there's more. Much more.. As Alexis Soloski in The Village Voice put it:
Not to be outdone, Helen Shaw of Time Out weighed in:
Even Andy Webster in The New York Times got in his licks:
Red Noir premiered in December 2009, and was originally scheduled to conclude January. 31, but extended its run for another month. Judging from the reviews, I'm not sure why.
"...a compilation of selected pieces intended for performance in the theatrical sense."
Plays, Operas, Musicals and Other Theatrical Diversions featuring Private Eyes
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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