Part recess, part ritual, part recruitment, "Skinnamarink" is Little Lord's absurd and vicious take on American education and indoctrination. More…
"Skinnamarink" is based on “McGuffey's Eclectic Readers,” a series of American schoolbooks used to teach children how to read from the 1830s to today (yes, to today). Pre-dating the pastel-colored/everybody-happy world of "Dick and Jane," these brutal little books helped shaped the minds and behaviors of Americans for generations. Transforming New York Theatre Workshop’s 4th Street Theatre into a little one-room schoolhouse of horrors, "Skinnamarink" questions what kind of people are the most useful in society...and how we handle the rest.
"What makes 'Skinnamarink' work so effectively is the commitment to sending up childhood memories of school while commenting on universal brainwashing...Absurdist theater and very, very funny. The entire cast is deadly serious in performing these increasingly silly and manic intervals...The polish exhibited throughout this 75 minute comedy has to be credited to Michael Levinton...It’s ritualistic, symbolic, idiotic and smart...It’s a hilarious blast of brightly vivid creativity." Full Review
"For about 75 delightfully repulsive minutes, you’ll regret your childhood. Depending on how close the actors get to your row, you may regret the entire concept of children...I don’t want to oversell its qualities: It’s a daffy show. But the downtown ensemble Little Lord tends to make the kind of seeming silliness that worms into your brain and comes out to play long after recess is over." Full Review
"Many contemporary plays feel like live audition reels for television...This one does not, and proudly flies a purely theatrical freak flag...The show constantly plays off the double meaning of the word 'instruction'...Little Lord, which describes its shows as 'junk spectaculars,' practices an open-source approach...These disparate borrowings are integrated into a bewildering whole that is much tighter than Little Lord’s chaotically sprawling previous production." Full Review
“’Skinnamarink’ is an absurdist study in indoctrination...Initially childish and playful, the amusing piece gradually turns sinister...The absence of a storyline and the abstract doings of this smart and slyly disturbing work are likely to disconcert viewers who prefer their theater conventional. Theatergoers willing to take an experimental journey will be impressed by the acute performances...even as they later ponder the unsettling significance of ‘Skinnamarink.’” Full Review
"'Skinnamarink' is not for everyone; the wild, stylized nature of Little Lord’s work is distinctive and maybe profound...After a while spent with these lessons, it isn’t entirely clear what they’re meant to be teaching, but it does seem like these students are constantly wrong...Even if the peanuttiness of 'Skinnamarink' isn’t quite your taste, it will likely leave you feelin’ some kind of way about the evolution of education in the States." Full Review
"The artists creating it and watching it are no doubt in agreement about the ridiculousness of the educational system, and this consensus plays to its strength and weakness in its exposition of the obvious...About as irreverent and nostalgic as a string of Peanuts comics, but with a larger dose of irony...It’s absurdism, but with a square-ness that keeps it within certain bounds. The commitment to this style is certainly admirable...But it makes for a sort of monotony." Full Review
See it if you want to see a wonderful, absurdist satire on learning by rote, childhood indoctrination & the effect of early grade school primers.
Don't see it if u have a peanut allergy; ur completely unfamiliar with McGuffey Readers [still popular in homeschooling, btw!]; u want traditional theater.
See it if Little Lord's devised theatre piece views education as a devise for control & subjugation rather than knowledge Adroit cast keeps it engaged
Don't see it if Messy, dense & often puzzling it's still involving & questioning Themes glimmer then vanish Personal relations fall prey to indoctrination
See it if A live reenactment of children's "Dick and Jane" readers performed by lively and talented actors in a pulsing, repetitive intense fashion.
Don't see it if It's a series of crude, intense, rhythmic performances, that are angry, intense, and just plain nutty. And peanut butter is actively used--
See it if you support theater by young ppl working hard with scant material/overworking scant material. Could have been a great 5 min sketch.
Don't see it if you expect a point that's not so obvious, find a joke gets boring when repeated for 75 minutes, or have severe peanut allergies.
See it if you enjoy experimental theater; you have terrible memories of school; you're open-minded about entertainment.
Don't see it if you like traditional, linear storytelling; you prefer plays that emphasize plot & character over style & presentation.
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