The Cobra and the Hare
Surrealistic performance troupe Pink Toupee Collective may not be everyone’s cup of tea—but if you’re looking for theater of the absurd on acid, this colorful band of crazy, kooky actors and musicians is just the cup for you.You have to approach a Pink Toupee’s performance with an open mind and a sense of whimsy, with no expectations of a coherent story line or much logic whatsoever. What you get in return is an evening of the unexpected, more than 25 original, creative songs backed by a tight, burlesquey band, very imaginative costumes and makeup and a group of eccentric, enthusiastic performers who are having a grand old time.
Pink Toupee could be called an underground company simply because they only surface periodically with quirky musical productions. The group’s newest offering, The Cobra and the Hare, is a rare revisit of a piece, one the troupe workshopped last summer at River Stage’s Playwright’s Festival of New Works.
The story? See, there’s this farm, and a talking beehived bovine, some peaceniks, an impending environmental apocalypse, some zombies, a wobbly grandma, a really tall Indian, a rotting ghoul, not a cobra or hare in sight, and … well, never mind. A straight-lined story isn’t all that important to either the audience or the performers. It’s all about entertainment.
The Cobra and the Hare is a musical with all songs, no dialogue. Luckily, the songs are both catchy and clever, with a cast that can, mostly, carry impressive tunes. The show could use some tightening of the first half by a couple musical numbers, but the total overall effect is charming, in a psychedelic, nonsensical kind of way.
At times, there are as many troupe members on stage as members of the audience—a cast of 10 actors and a full seven-member orchestra that includes a keyboard, drums, percussion, guitars, an accordion, marimbas, a xylophone and a standing bass.
Cobra is the debut performance for The Ooley Theater, a refurbished independent theater space at 28th and T, impressively outfitted with a colorful lobby, tiered theater seats, and Dali-esque paintings on the back stage wall.