The human mind is a strange but more or less dependable thing. You can always count on it to try and discover patterns and meaning in everything from a connect-the-dots puzzle to snatches of gossip overheard in a noisy restaurant. It's the same urge that compels us to seek images in ink blots and billowing clouds on a summer afternoon, and demand some sort of rational explanation of Squonk, that BigSmorgasbordWunderWerk which opened last night at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
There must be some sort of linear plot or storyline, if for no other purpose than to allow Squonk's director, Tom Diamond, and its creators, the entire cast led by Steve O'Hearn and Jackie Dempsey, to put the evening's sequence of hallucinatory images on stage in what appears to be a carefully planned and efficient manner. But, they aren't talking - literally - and so it is left up to each member of the audience to come up with an individual interpretation. (I'm certainly not going to reveal exactly what I think it all means. Those nice men in the white coats would show up to take me away long before I got to the part about the giant, bloodshot eyeball - or was it a train? - appearing, just in time to provide musical accompaniment for that dinosaur-sort-of-eagle-looking-creature riding a lopsided bicycle.)
Let's not even discuss the traumatic, mandatory and enforced audience participation.
Suffice to say that intelligent, creative, and visually sensitive people will love Squonk; for them it will act as a mirror in which to discover yet another facet of themselves. Everyone else will end up bewildered and slightly angry at wasting both time and money to see it.
Squonk: BigSmorgasbordWunderWerk Created by Steve O'Hearn and Jackie Dempsey in collaboration with the original NY Squonk Ensemble; Casi Pacilio, Kevin Kornicki, Jana Losey, and T. Weldon Anderson. Music by Jackie Dempsey. Image Book by Steve O'Hearn. Lyrics by Jana Losey with Jackie Dempsey. Direction by Tom Diamond. Performers: T. Weldon Anderson, Jackie Dempsey, Kevin Kornicki, Jana Losey, and Steve O'Hearn. Sets, Puppets, and Costumes by Steve O'Hearn. Lighting by Tim Saternow. Sound by Bernard Fox. Projections by Steve O'Hearn with Casi Pacilio and Nick Fox-Geig. Musical direction by Jackie Dempsey. Choreography and Movement by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza.
Theatre: The Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
Running time: Approximately 70 minutes with no intermission.
Audience: May be inappropriate for children 7 and younger. Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre.
Schedule: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.
Ticket prices: $65 and $45 Wednesday matinee: $60 and $40
Rush tickets: Limited number of $20 seats available on the day of performance only, at the Box Office.
Tickets in person: Box Office hours Monday 10 AM to 6 PM, Tuesday through Saturday 10 AM to 8 PM, Sunday Noon to 5 PM.
Tickets online: www.telecharge.com
Tickets by phone: Tele-charge at (212 )239-6200, or outside the NY metro area (800) 545-2559, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Tickets by snail mail: Squonk, Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
Tickets by E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org