Out of Nowhere is part of A Directors Festival, the brainchild of Frank Calo, formerly a co-producer of Sage Theatre Company. The Festival focuses on both new directors, and those familiar to New York theatregoers. With veterans of the successful Sage Theatre, and some performers new to the space, Calo and company are off to an auspicious start.
Out of Nowhere takes place in 1928 at Rosentraum Castle, in an undefined Mitteleuropean principality referred to as Nowhere. Rosentraum's residents are all deposed minor royalty left without countries to rule after the end of the first world war. Content in their insular world, the royals, who are all obsessed with sexual fetishes of some sort, cavort under the watchful eye of Dr. Marie-Louise Napoleon, a Freudian analyst.
Rudolf, King of Carpathia, has been troubled by his sexual obsession with the late Prince Joseph, whose portrait hangs at Rosentraum. Dr. Napoleon's other charges include Alexander, Czar of Bessarabia, who cannot control his urges to expose himself, refers to himself as "She," and enjoys dressing as a ballerina. Yolanda, Grand Duchess of Galicia, and Baroness Keiselhart complete the eccentric ensemble.
Enter Butch Bigelow, has-been actor of silent films, whose career has been cut short by the advent of talkies. Bigelow, who bears a striking resemblance to the late Prince Joseph, has actually been playing the Prince in a movie being shot in the area. Rudolf falls hard for the actor and entreats him to stay with him at the castle. Although Bigelow is tempted by the Alpine charm of Rosentraum, he senses something is amiss. It turns out that the residents of Rosentraum are not the august personages they claim to be, but inmates in a mental institution. Bigelow decides to return home to Chicago. With Dr. Napoleon's encouragement, Rudolf goes with him, hopefully cured of his delusions.
Krauss's play is reminiscent of drawing-room plays and films of the 1920s and 30s. The characters are written a bit too broadly, but in the hands of director Ken Bachtold and his talented cast they came alive.
Kevin Cusick was delightfully to-the-manner-born as Rudolf. David Dotterer's hysterically funny Czar Alexander was a delicious send-up of perverse aristocrats, and Thelma Leibowitz's earthy, oversexed Dowager Yolanda was a tart-tongued charmer. Roxy Becker as Yolanda's companion, the love-starved Baroness Keiselhart, was a fabulous physical comedian, bringing down the house when she scooped up Alexander and spirited him off for a sexual encounter. Dannette Bock excelled as Dr. Napoleon, bringing an insoucient Gallic charm to a role that could easily have deteriorated into stereotype.
Stephan Voutsas was ruggedly handsome as the movie hunk with a voice out of the Chicago stockyards. His admissions as to how he made his career in Hollywood were geniunely touching. Whalen J. Laurence was very amusing as the sheet-clad security guard, Manzo, always willing to accommodate the sexual proclivities of his charges.
The uncredited set conveyed Rosentraum's genteel shabbiness, and the costumes, also uncredited, were very attractive, particularly Ms. Bock's and Ms. Leibowitz's ensembles.
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Copyright 2000 Julie Halpern