Best Original Show Houston 2007 - Rot by John Harvey at Mildred's Umbrella
Local playwright John Harvey is nothing if not bizarre, at least he's that way in writing. His disturbingly funny plays, featured at Mildred's Umbrella, have examined incest, debauchery and sex with animals. Last season's Rot, presented with the help of those grand puppets from Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, was Harvey's most tortured and most hilarious yet. It featured a nasty family consisting of a tyrannical mother named Barbara (Patricia Duran), a spineless father named Earl (Eric Doss) and a hell-raising daughter named Ann (Jennifer Decker). Wracked with the plague, Earl crawled across the stage on his belly while his horrible wife called him a "fucking piece of shit," among other insults. "Die Earl," she said to her foolish husband, over and over. Deadly to the point of apocryphal, the story was creepy and compelling. And the production's use of puppetry brought Harvey's inventiveness to a whole new level.