THE YEAR OF THE RAW ONION (IRC): A cabaret cocktail of satire and absurdity

The cast (minus Jenna Kuerzi) of THE YEAR OF THE RAW ONION (Photo credit: Tina Brock)

The cast (minus Jenna Kuerzi) of THE YEAR OF THE RAW ONION (Photo credit: Tina Brock)

Philadelphia’s go-to company for absurdist work, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium returned to L’Etage for its annual cabaret-style fundraiser—this year in support of the company’s upcoming full-stage remount of Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in September. The fast-paced 75-minute one-night show, presented as a series of lively monologues directed by the IRC’s own Tina Brock and David Stanger, featured a high-energy cast of fourteen, each delivering a stand-up version of an article culled from the satirical news source The Onion

THE YEAR OF THE RAW ONION lampooned everything from a nutty film critic (played by nutty film critic and stand-up comic Dan Scully in “I Only Like Movies Where The Whole Cast Dances In A Little Box Next To The End Credits”) to an impassioned squirrel going nutty over his love of nuts (Tomas Dura as Danny the Squirrel in “I Have to Admit: I Love the Nuts”). Other subjects of the hilarious socio-political commentaries ranged from egocentric relationships (Anna Lou Hearn in “”But If We Started Dating It Would Ruin Our Friendship Where I Ask You To Do Things And You Do Them” and Sharon Geller in “Until I Had Kids, I Never Thought I Could Love Something Almost As Much As Myself”) to hysterical rants over the trivialities of everyday life (John D’Alonzo in “Aw, Fer Crying Out Loud” and Jack Tamburri in “I’d Like to See The Government Try and Take Away My Trash”); from senseless obsessions (Jack Hoffman in “I Want My Children To Have A Better Nightlife Than I Had” and David Stanger as a single-minded baby in “So Help Me God, I’m Going To Eat One Of Those Multicolored Detergent Pods”) to neurotic over-reactions (Sonja Robson in “I Always Thought That Losing Your Sunglasses Was Something That Happened To Other People”); from uncontrolled anger (Bayard Walker in “”One Time I Punched A Goose Right Out Of The Air”) to derogatory judgments of others (Liam Brock in “People Don’t Like It When You Call Them Stupid” and Jenna Kuerzi as a mindless Millennial in “You Really Don’t Know Who People Are Until You Make A Vicious Snap Judgment About Them”) and proclamations of one’s own shortcomings (Andrew Carroll in “I’m Sorry But I’ve Had Just About Enough Of Me” and Susan Moses as a clueless actress in “I Just Want To Begin This Audition By Saying That I’m Still Not Entirely Sure What Acting Is”). The facetious diatribes were as funny as their titles, as the members of the cast worked themselves up into frenetic raves over trifles.

On-going technical problems with the stage lights, which flashed on and off during the acts, one script-in-hand performance, and repeated cue calls in another didn’t dampen the spirits of the packed house of enthusiastic IRC supporters, and afforded the quick-witted cast opportunities for clever ad-libs. The riotous evening opened and closed with an appearance by the ever-ridiculous Sarah Palin (well-impersonated by Sharon Geller) offering some mind-boggling comments and a couple of songs in her annoying accent and inexplicable thought process. Now that’s absurd!

 

[L’Etage, 624 S. 6th St., 2nd fl.] March 20, 2016; www.idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.org.

 

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.