It's easy to get distracted by all the gore in writer-director Arik Martin's nightmarish black comedy. The first time I saw Bad-Ass & the Devil, in July of 2000, I left the theater shaken and queasy. The second time--a year later for a weekend revival--I became anesthetized to the ritualistic bloodletting and began to really hear Martin's ironic dialogue. ("Stabbing," remarks one character, "well, it's not an exact science.") This time, I started noticing how much attention Martin pays to atmospherics. Dieter Frank's haunting score has the same push-pull effect as Bernard Herrmann's classic Hitchcock sound tracks. Whoever did the uncredited lighting directs a single spotlight on the front seat of the car that traps the play's wayward souls, making the characters' shadows dance along the back wall like devilish specters. And Martin's cast is more seductive than ever: the expressive Gary Sugarman, John Wilson, and J. Scott throw in as many red herrings as actual clues. After sold-out performances at last year's New York International Fringe Festival, Bad-Ass & the Devil returns to Chicago for an open run, celebrating Half Cocked Productions' exclusive lease on the Space. It seems fans of the company's highly visceral work can expect a steady stream of Half Cocked productions. The Space, 4829 N. Damen, 773-297-2745. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:13 PM. $13.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Reid Paxson.