Anything But Funny: “on est déshabillé” (A Comedy About Death) at the Berkshire Fringe
Theater Review by Gail M. Burns
This piece simply struck me dumb. I had the feeling that I should either start laughing very loudly and continue until it ended, or that I should stand up and walk out publicly and noisily, neither of which I can do as a professional critic. Nor is either something I have ever felt impelled to do in 16 seasons as a critic. Performer/composer/storyteller Eliza Ladd, whose last Berkshire Fringe entry I enjoyed very much – Elephants and Gold in 2009 [read review here] – has hit so wide of the mark here that on est déshabillé embodies everything, and I do mean everything, that gives “fringe” theatre a bad name.
Its billing reads: “Born out of Rock-and-Roll and teetering toward Clown, on est déshabillé
is an absurdist tour de force.” The names of Ionesco, Pinter and Beckett did course through my mind as I watched, but those gentlemen were able to use nonsense to make sensible artistic comments on reality, which is indeed absurd in the extreme. on est déshabillé – a French phrase meaning “one is stripped bare” – is indeed stripped bare of intellect and humor, leaving only a few memorable visuals and sound bites worthy of recall.