The messy-entranced Liquid Room Annexe is an unlikely enclave of acclaimed-elsewhere but little-known-here North American nutcases this year, and Butt Kapinski is arguably the oddest.
A hard-bitten private dick, Kapinski is so film noir that a street light emanates from the back of his trench-coat collar, hovering permanently above his head, which also proves handy for conducting impromptu interrogations. It’s a strong look, and this is a bewilderingly strong show, albeit not for the nervous, prudish or anti-social. Although, hey, it might just do you people good, and you’ll definitely learn something, about duct tape if nothing else.
A one-woman show with a large, variable cast—whoever turns up to watch it, basically—Butt Kapinski follows the eponymous detective as he investigates a series of grizzly moiders which have occurred in various seedy locations, all of them on or around the audience’s seats. Kapinski is really part dick, part dodgy drama teacher as he encourages this sometimes reluctant reservoir of questionable talents to play everything from kinky priests to gushing corpses.
The resulting noirrative starts off almost family-friendly, then definitely isn’t, and come the end we’re straddling a troubling line between comic fantasy and dark reality. By then Kapinski has revealed himself to be the accomplished US clown Deanna Fleysher (and, boy, does he reveal her), who previously directed and co-wrote the infamous Fringe sensation Red Bastard. Her own creation is terrifically inventive and invariably hilarious, but Fleysher’s finest achievement is to somehow keep all that compulsory audience interaction curiously non-confrontational. A master craftswoman at work.