Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway in the PCPA Building, 248-0557, one night only, Saturday Feb 19, 8 pm, $12-15
In Portland we have the Tears of Joy puppet company, (which aims most of its shows at children), the elementary school-touring MudEye company, and a number of fringe dabblers. Adults seeking adult entertainment via puppets have few options, which is a shame, because in the hands of skilled puppeteers, even the most basic sock puppets (as evidenced by the Joyce Carol Oates puppet in Coho Theatre's current production of Recent Tragic Events) can command a level of attention rarely equaled by human actors. Humor becomes more humorous; sadness becomes sadder; and, in the case of Seattle's Monkey Wrench Puppet Lab, lunacy becomes more lunatic. "We will feature sex, drugs, murder, and politics. And then we'll get into some controversial stuff," says Monkey Wrench member Joshua Okrent, director of the company's popular Drunk Puppet Nite, playing in Portland this Saturday. "Actually, for the Portland event, we are bringing some very beautiful pieces. We're very conscious of trying to win over a new audience for our brand of puppetry, so we're not going to show the necrophilia piece, we're leaving out the bestiality, and we also decided, after some debate, not to bring the puppets made of meat. If there's a clamor to bring us back to Portland, we'll feel comfortable opening the doors a little wider.
"But don't worry," continues Okrent, "there is something in this show to offend everyone."
Started four years ago, the Monkey Wrench members make their living playing to the kids by day, and exorcise their demons playing to the grown-ups by night. Memorable events have included the monster-themed show Frankenocchio, and a show two years ago at Portland's Devil's Point strip club, where, according to Okrent, "a trusting audience came out to see a puppet show, and had to watch the bump-and-grind. And the audience for the tits-and-ass had to sit through the puppetry! It was great." The Winningstad, where this weekend's festivities will occur, isn't a strip club, but will be "selling alcohol at the show," promises Okrent. "Drink up!"