Still peculiar after all these years.
John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves premiered in 1971, and was revived in 1986 and again last year in New York with a starry cast. Each time it baffles audiences and critics: Is it a drama or a comedy? Is it kitchen-sink realism or goofy absurdism? And this current Isis production, under Neill Hartley's direction, baffles again. Bolstered by an excellent cast, the script moves us more than it seems to deserve.
The show begins in a nightclub with a painfully awful medley of songs sung badly by Artie (John Zak, who conveys pathos and end-of-ropeness perfectly). He is a desperate zookeeper who longs for show-business glamour and success - and no wonder: He's married to a crazy woman, the aptly named Bananas (Renee Richman-Weisband in a delicate portrait of bewilderment), who is also desperate - to feel something, anything. But even 24 hours out in the snow in her nightgown doesn't produce so much as the sniffles, much less some relief from her numb suffering.