Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Naked Lunch' meets 'Brokeback Mountain'

By Adam Warner

Who needs the classic Western movie when you can be stampeded by a mind-bending and introspective cowboy dance-drama?

Yvan Greenberg’s take on the tired ol’ genre, “Git Along Lil Doggies,” will do just that when it opens at the Brick Theater tonight — a spirited romp that blends elements of Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” William S. Burroughs’s psychedelic novels, country-western line dance and gay pornography (but, really, what straight play is complete without that?).

At its core, the play is still about the mysterious and untamed Wild West.

“I’d call it a cowboy show,” said Greenberg, who is the director and founder of Laboratory Theater. “But I wasn’t seeing my idea of what a cowboy is or represents, so I made my own.”

Like any good western, “Git Along Lil Doggies” does have a classic plot: two outlaw cowboys, Kim Carsons and The Kid, are hunting an old adversary through a rough and tumble backdrop. 

But any similarity between this and “High Noon” ends here. Mix some “Brokeback Mountain” with “Naked Lunch,” then add in a brothel madam named Salt Chunk Mary and some pagan hoodoo for good measure, and you’re approaching this play’s territory.

And not even “Blazing Saddles” had a “sex-magical ritual” like this play — a scene that includes mystical dancing, S&M harnesses, and Mexican wrestling masks.

“There’s classic cowboy elements, but with a twist,” said the ever-understated Greenberg.

Projected video landscapes create the backdrop, made up of old Marlboro cigarette ad scenes that have been vividly repainted, and country-western recordings from the 1920s and ’30s combine with contemporary new age music to create an immersive soundscape.  

The scenery is continuously introduced, reflecting the characters’s present mindsets and the transformations they’re going through.  

“The protagonist embodies the landscape,” said Greenberg. “A bond between nature and cowboy is explored.”
The traditionally moral-laden western, with its concepts of good and evil, is left in the ditch as Greenberg emphasizes the mystery of life.

“Kim and The Kid are able to utilize the unknown that is inherently within all of us,” Greenberg said. “Farmers, cowboys, and others who are intimately tied to the land have to reconcile with this all the time, like when they have to kill an animal they’ve raised from birth.”

Metaphysical stuff aside, did we mention there’s a shoot-out at the end?

“Git Along Lil Doggies” at the Brick Theater [575 Metropolitan Ave. near Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 907-6189], Oct. 14-30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. Tickets, $18. For info, visit


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