Delusions of Darkness
Pavement Productions
The Back Door Theater

In the program for this wacky show, playwright Steve Patterson refers to himself as at risk of being "terminally unhip" because it took him "three tries to read William S. Burroughs' notorious masterpiece Naked Lunch." I find this distressing. If Patterson is at risk of being terminally unhip, then I must be already dead. I've never even tried to read Naked Lunch at all.

I have seen the movie, though. It featured typewriters having sex with other typewriters, and even though I hadn't read the novel at that time either, I still appreciated the image, which has never left me since. The same thing can sort of be said about Delusions of Darkness, which Patterson admits is only "inspired by"--as opposed to "based on"--Naked Lunch, but which still does an admirable job of packing itself with as many memorable images as the landmark film did (which I assume was actually based on the book).

Delusions takes us into the world of Murphy, a private eye/writer/drug addict conglomeration who wanders around a seedy bar, taking note of the many freaks that go there. Much talk is made about "senders" and "receivers," freaks come and go, and a lot of jazz plays in the background. Outside of that, it's up to the viewer to decide for oneself if anything actually happens during this play. If you decide that something does happen, well, good for you.

If, like me, you decide that nothing happens, then don't fret--there are still a number of cool set pieces to be enjoyed along the way, (including a cracked-out dance number by a crazy goth girl played by Madeleine Sanford, and a fabulous shoot-out fantasy that plays both forward and backward) as well as an unending stream of quirky characters. Mike Katt, as Marcus the hick paramedic, is hilarious, and Sanford, who plays a pent-up debutante in addition to her goth turn, gives the kind of performance that makes you wish her character/s would never leave the stage.

You don't need to have read Naked Lunch to enjoy this play. I'm living proof of that. And if you think I'm terminally unhip, I'll have you know that I've read a bunch of other awesome books that I bet you've never even heard of.