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Cyrano’s Theatre Company






Review by Robert Pond

“There is no such thing as an original play,” so sayeth historian, novelist, and playwright Charles L. Mee.  Liken to this, there are those who would further say that after Shakespeare, there are only re-writes.  Mr. Mee, brings us a very entertaining work that is more an experience in a theatre than viewing a story told.  bobrauschenbergamerica is a nonlinear play, which helps remove it from accountability.  Mee’s intent, it would seem, is to give each member of the audience a different impression of the nearly 40 drama lab skits being offered.  The rules, if you’re searching, may be that there aren’t any; it’s Pop Theatre.

Artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was a collagist rising to prominence during the mid 50’s.  He was a painter who used photographs and other media and, indeed, discards from the streets to bring forth his artistic expressions.  The artist excelled in the 60’s, a decade that endeavored to escape the 50’s.  Rauschenberg bridged the gap from Expressionism to the Pop art, rubbing shoulders with Andy Warhol’s work.  The forced evolution of Art is somewhat like throwing efforts against the wall to see what adheres.  In music, composer Charles Ives was such a collagist-experimenter in his ‘leave it to chance’ approach to music art.   It can be said, that in bobrauschenbergamica, Charles L. Mee offers his play as something of a benediction to the life and work of Robert Rauschenberg by writing the play “as if the artist Rauschenberg had written it, himself.”

bobrauschenbergamica is more a stage review than a play.  There is the rubber chicken introducing us to a rolling bathtub, a bikini-clad Morgan Mitchell (Phil’s Girl), and a sort of stage manager on roller skates, Peyton Johnson.  This along with a fractured ensemble gives us a sort of psychedelic trip into nothingness.  It is nonetheless a fun trip where we laugh at the antics and the incongruity that is so basic to comedy, while still hoping for a point.  Amid the stream-of-conscience dialogue, there are relationships and non-relationships, which seem so in the way of this ode to free living and thought – borne of the 60’s.  There is a touch of vaudeville with the intrusion of the sight gags and you will love the great swimming scene as well.   But, then, the point may be that it’s all just fun.

Director Stephan Golux makes good use of keeping the evening going with perplexing choreography, some of it robotic.  Some of the directorial design seemed vague and some very clever.  Using Puccini’s “Nessun doma” from the third act of Turandot was a good harmonic to the scene on stage.  Mr. Golux is, by the way, the envy of not a few directors in being able to lure Sandy Harper back to the stage as Bob’s deranged Mom.  It’s actually not a reach in that theatre guru Sandy is always “on stage”.   Her work in the latter part of the play was especially good.  Sandy has the play’s signature line, “Art was not part of our lives”, possibly a contradiction to playwright Mee’s thesis.

It was so good to see Henry Weaver (Becker) on stage again.  He is so compelling as an actor.   Tonight, he lifts the absurd into the genuine by his performance alone.  Favorite among the 35-40 skits is when Henry begins to make a movie with the ensemble joining in ala improvisation; it’s the better writing of the work.

Whether or not you can climb onto this bang-wagon of Pop Theatre, it will certainly be a fun evening and probably different yet from performance to performance-if you should see the performance again.  Discussing it at lunch will have its challenges, but that is the price -or reward- in attending innovative theatre.


bobrauschenbergamerica continues at Cyrano’s Theatre Company until July 15th.

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