One of the greatest modern-day magic acts is centered in that ubiquitous socket that hovers above the baseboard. We blithely plug all manner of gizmos into those mysterious double rectangular slots, and everything starts whirring, humming, and buzzing. It all seems like a massive leap of faith, since we never see a tangible power supply, and it's not until the invisible power grid collapses that we realize how much we depend on those little holes in the wall.
All of this makes electricity an irresistible metaphor for life and relationships in Battery, now being produced by Convergence-Continuum at the Liminis. Set in a scruffy repair shop called Rip's Electric, the play by Daniel Therriault probes the high-voltage subjects of male-female attraction and self-realization while reeling off streamers of extended metaphors, puns, and assorted wordplay that continually jolt the show to life. The result is a performance that is occasionally galvanizing and almost always intriguing.
The owner of the little shop is Rip, a male chauvinist and self-declared stud, who refers flatteringly to his sexual endowment by dubbing himself "the Washington Monument." His assistant is the deferential and frequently abused Stan, a bland fellow who idolizes Rip's knowledge of things AC/DC and his way with chicks. Rip's current armature candy is the lovely Brandy, a woman who loves Rip almost as much as Stan does. But when Stan somewhat accidentally slugs Brandy, Rip decides to rewire his employee's neurons by hooking him up to a beat-up generator and performing DIY shock therapy.
Brandy wanted that retaliation against Stan, but when she encounters him after his primitive cerebral tune-up, the formerly incompetent dork seems reborn, offering sophisticated solutions to electrical problems and chatting her up. She becomes attracted, and they consummate their new relationship with a word-association mind-fuck interlude that sets all the equipment in the shop spinning and blinking. And when Rip returns, he discovers that the earth has shifted under him and his fantasy world.
One of the stars of this piece is Therriault's language, so unapologetically chockablock with wild, autoerotic metaphors for sex ("I opened up her trunk and threw in my spare") and bad puns that you eventually just hop on for the ride. When Rip is giving Stan instructions on getting laid ("You need a chick, a polished bumper"), inventive director Clyde Simon even choreographs the guys pumping in unison like horny pistons.
Tim Coles is completely credible as Stan -- before and after his jumper-cable resurrection. Sultry Meg Cavanaugh is hot enough to short out most men's circuits, but she never pushes her borderline slut persona too far. Cocky Rip is a juicy part, and Brin Metzendorf hits many of the right notes. But fuzzy timing on some lines drained a little smoothness from his character's greasy charm.
Walt Whitman once urged us to "sing the body electric," and this play turns that song into a rap cover, complete with sex, revenge, and a dab of violence. Be careful what you ask for, Walt.
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