Mercury Fur is set in a dystopian world in an undetermined future and an unnamed city. Philip Ridley’s play, originally seen in London in 2005, shows us a motley group of young men in a world that is nearing the end. Some of the group are related by blood, others by shared experiences – they are bound to one another, creating some semblance of family. One way to make it through a day is by eating butterflies with hallucinogenic properties. Dealing these butterflies like drugs and hosting “parties” are the way this group of miscreants earn money. The main attraction of these parties is the “party piece”, a young boy who is brought in and drugged to allow a rich client to act out his violent fantasies. Yes, this play is violent and sadistic.
When you enter the theater the ushers inform you that the play runs two hours with no intermission, so it is also sadistic of The New Group not to have given me some hallucinogenic butterflies as a way of escaping this tortuous play. (I can’t imagine what performing this play night after night does to an actor’s psyche). The only saving grace is the talented group of actors. Especially terrific was Tony Revolori, playing a neighbor who is desperate to connect with people. I did feel that the Duchess (Emily Cass McDonnell) was poorly cast. She did a great job, but seems too young for the part once we discover who she really is. I also liked the set design of the run-down and abandoned apartment, but the seating was fairly uncomfortable. They took out many of the regular seats and I sat on a metal folding chair. That too was torture.
After last year’s pornographic and pointless Intimacy I did not want to subscribe to another season of The New Group. But my partner-in-crime pointed out that there is a Sam Shepard play this season and so I gave in and resubscribed. But if the remaining two productions make me long for the end of the world this may be my last season as a New Group subscriber. LAR
Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.
Ticket prices: $25-$95
Runs thru: September 27, 2015
Running time: 2 hours, no intermission