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click to enlarge Mary-Kate Arnold and Carl Wisniewski

Mary-Kate Arnold and Carl Wisniewski

Michal Janicki

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Jan. 13 2018
Price: $10-$25
It's a big deal that Trap Door Theatre has revived this black-comic satire by Polish polymath Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. Avant-garde in 1920 and uncompromising now, it touches on authoritarianism and art, misogyny and media as it tells the tale of Callisto Balandash, a clueless aesthete who finds himself targeted by a shadowy government agency that seems bent on purging degenerate art but turns out to be animated by more personal motives. The connections Witkiewicz draws among diverse subjects—not to mention his ability to deflate them all—is at once grim, silly, and prophetic. Trouble is, the cast under adapter-director Beata Pilch push their performances so far into heavy-handed freneticism that the production becomes difficult to watch at just 80 minutes. Carl Wisniewski's Callisto is the worst example. On the other hand, Mary-Kate Arnold manages to give some fire to Callisto's long-suffering lover, Spika. —Tony Adler

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