SPEED FREAKS

May 21 – June 13, 1999

At the Ontological Theater at St. Mark's Church, New York City
 
A Hangdog Theater production
 
Written, directed and scored by Robert Cucuzza
 
With
Ryan Bronz as Jacob
Robert Cucuzza as Ivan
Laura Kachergus as Molly
David Cote as Karl
Sally Eberhardt as Ms. Fuentealba
Vladimir Ambía as Señor Santeangelo
Cristina Nunes as Tiffany Taylor
DJ Mendel as Señor Santeangelo (June 3-6)
Set/Costume Designer: Merope Vachlioti
Lighting Designer: Rick Martin
Choreographer: Johanna S. Meyer
Technical Director: Andy Biscontini
Stage Manager: Cristina Nuñes
Assistant Director: Sally Eberhardt
 
“See the Bears”
Lyrics by Robert Cucuzza
 
Paw Paw's Famous Canned Peas are selling like hot cakes. What the unsuspecting vegetable-eaters don't know is that those tasty peas are laced with a potent and addictive drug that has sparked an epidemic of suicide jumps in their fair city. Ivan, the ringleader of Paw Paw's illicit operation, has more pressing concerns. His years of indulging in the drug have made him immune to its glorious effects, envy has ensued and his appetite for absurd pleasure is now all-consuming. With the help of his assistant Molly and their new Amish employee Jacob, he lures amateur performers over to the decrepit warehouse for a phony talent show and, in a cockamamie and unsuccessful attempt at happiness, watches their "audition," then viciously thrill-kills them. As the authorities close in and faced with one miserably failed thrill after another, Ivan ingests three “pure chunks” of the stuff, catapulting him into a delirious vaudevillian dream world of dancing bears. His appetite for pleasure is now downright ravenous. As the National Guard closes in, the machines start to break down and the whole operation tumbles into sheer idiocy, Ivan shamelessly goes for broke. Determined to take his lurid team with him on his way to maximum pleasure, he masterminds a ramshackle plan for a most grisly, selfish, and hilarious grand finale. 

"Cucuzza delivers a thrillingly cartoonish performance through a series of raving eruptions, in which the talented actor transforms himself into a vibrating, eye-popping, slobbering Tasmanian devil. [T]he virtuoso auteur is a tremendously watchable actor..." 
 

“[A] splendidly clever choreographer…his kinetic play retains an uncontrived, anarchic spirit, which is its greatest strength."

— Jason Zinoman, Time Out New York

 “...a hypnotic performer with a talent for slapstick..."

"...a master of mayhem...a memorable exercise in delirious theatrical anarchy."

— The New York Times

"As head honcho of this rogue company, Ivan (played with demented, maniacal wit by the author himself) has schemed to pump a narcotic gas into his product, which has turned it into the number one seller."


"Heavily indebted to Richard Foreman's performance aesthetic, Cucuzza's work runs riot in a similarly self- contained way. The rules of his world certainly aren't obvious, though they have a logic, no matter how sinister or depraved."

— Charles McNulty, Village Voice

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