by John Stoehr
Looks like Spoleto Festival should have booked more dates for Between the Devil and the Deep Blues Sea. People have been asking me all week if I've seen this funny, macabre, and brilliant bit of absurdist theater. Everyone says they loved it. No one — no one in my presence, that is — has expressed disappointment or doubt. They thought it was sick, hilarious, and demented. They thought it was fascinating, bizarre, and unique
Which it is. But people seem to be unsure about Monkey: Journey to the West. Perhaps elevated expectations are to blame. The star factor, too: a highly regarded opera director working with a highly popular songwriter and illustrator. Devil didn't get nearly the buzz that Monkey was getting before Spoleto began. So perhaps it benefited from being under the radar, from being a little more ambiguous.
There's no story. There's only tableaux, moods, snapshots of bizarre scenes that are shot through with delicious ironies. That's not something easily communicated with promotional photographs. People have been delightfully surprised by how funny Devil is. Even though, their brand of humor is no simple thing.