Jason Nodler has said that if his company, Infernal Bridegroom Productions, ever had a brother, its name would be Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre. Like green-eyed siblings, the companies share a pitch-black sense of humor and a love of the absurd.
Bobbindoctrin designer Dennis Clay gives a puppet a light.
Now, they've finally come together to produce what may be their meanest (and funniest) show yet: The Noblest of Drugs. Written by Bobbindoctrin artistic director Joel Orr and directed by Nodler, the play's about little-known philosopher/artist Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz ("Witkacy" to his friends). Apparently, Witkiewicz's life was fraught with the kind of irony that Nodler so adores. "He hated drugs," says Nodler, "but took them because he felt that they helped his creativity." Of course, the noblest drug, according to Witkiewicz, was art.
In Orr's play, Witkiewicz becomes Stan, "an artist trapped in a totalitarian society where the arts are considered as harmful as narcotics." Like all of Orr's work, the play contains many wicked moments. "There's a lot of drugs in the play," says Nodler. "There's a lot of sex in the play. There's a lot of cocaine-bashing, but the characters spend more than half the play on cocaine. Of course, all of the characters are puppets."
"The entire show is very funny," says Nodler. "It's very fast. It's a good cross between the earlier shows that Bobbindoctrin did: really funny and really sort of hateful. It's got all those qualities, but it's a full-length show. And for my money it's by far Joel's finest script. It's his heaviest and funniest and it deals with the nature of what it is to make art."
The cast of IBP provides the voices, with Cary Winscott playing the lead. And the music, composed by Anthony Barilla, features the frantic, paranoid sounds of a toy piano, creating the perfect atmosphere for the story. "Puppets on cocaine," says Nodler, "is a really fun thing to see."