dot dot dot.. Or how bitterness killed the fun.
(Critic's comment.. Sometimes I make up my own words and spellings. In this review, it was pointed out to me that somehow, I spelled 'crabs' 'clams'. well, it's seafood, right?.. Fact is that this energetic romp has ideas and interests well beyond the obvious and I recommend it. Clams would not have been nearly as interesting as the crabs.. )
Do not be fooled by the title of this world premiere play by pinchy Bernardo Cubria. It may sound like lunch or dinner or it may well be an allegory, but the crabs we meet in Crabs in a Bucket present pretty much as .. well: crabs. (far out set by Amanda Knehans). Blue crab costumes by Lou Cranch rock.
|Jordan Hull, Michael Sturgis|
Anna LaMadrid and Xochitl Romero
Photo by Cooper Bates
I find the use of gender neutral pronouns confusing and even a little unsettling.. but. we are in the land of self diagnosed gender fluid or sis gender or gay or bi or other bits of the current approach to self determination, whether I like it or not, this is Society 2023 and these crabs : crabby and philosophical and thoughtful, remind me of what might happen if in some fantasy land of authors Michael McClure met Franz Kafka who got a text message from Samuel Beckett. Certainly, pinchy Cubria, the author, may have, at least a passing interest in each of these guys. This World Premiere is funny and thought provoking and if you sit in the Crabby Zone: watch out!
Amargo (Xochitl Romero) and Pootz (Anna LaMadrid) sit center stage. They are thirty years of age and have been in the shucking bucket for a long time. Getting out is a goal, but.. here they sit.
The crabs are blue. Longing to escape.. Pootz and Amargo sit.. longingly. The remnants of other departed crabs litter the stage.
The door marked "The Before" upstage center is a verboten door. Why? Is that where the crabs lived 'before' they found their way to the bucket. Is the Outside really the wonderful next step?
The ennui of Pootz and Amargo is broken by a fast moving and adorable Beb (Jordan Hull): A sidewalk surfer! who half awakens and mostly annoys the old timers. What the crabs don't need is competition to make it to the rim and the Outside. Competition and flurry and frenzy in the Crabby Zone inevitably zonks the escapees back to the bottom of the bucket. The story of a pink thing with fingers sometimes reaching in to pluck a crab to the other side seems like a myth.
Beb is a breath of fresh air who quickly learns that big energy is not all that welcome.
Fun fact: Evidently, in real life, one solitary crab in a bucket can usually find its way out easily. But if there's more than one crab in the bucket, they will fight tooth and nail.. or claw and something like teeth in their stomachs! to get to the lip of the bucket and on to The Outside and 'freedom.'
It's the prime directive.. Get Out!!
Foreshadowing gives us a peek at an escapee, Mamon (Michael Sturgis), whom the detainees recall as one who made it out. "They" were a playcrab who shucked just about every other crab in the bucket!! Earthquake!! sends the crabs scrambling.. and magically appears Mamon! Mamon who was literally plucked from the bucket by a gigantic pink five legged thing. They grill him about what's happened and he can only say.. ."it's complicated."
The allegory is not easy for me to follow.. I suspect that those chosen few may wind up at Red Lobster. Another alarm and the scramble for the top of the bucket puts the audience into the Crabby Zone! Ow!
If Cubria has reincarnation on his mind.. or Godot? it's hard to tell. The absurd elements are in place and like Godot, Pootz and Amargo remain. Begin again? More chit?
Amargo: Xochitl Romero
Pootz: Anna LaMadrid
Beb: Jordan Hull
Mamon: Michael Sturgis
Crabs in a Bucket:
Or how bitterness ruined the fun
by Bernardo Cubria
Directed by Alana Dietze
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Performances: July 15 – August 21
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: July 12 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: July 13 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 14 (preview), July 21, July 28, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 18
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 15 (opening night), July 22, July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: July 16, July 23, July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 13, Aug. 20
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 17, July 24, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 14, Aug. 21
FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater
Tickets and Information: