Sunday, January 04, 2009

and what a Grand Guignol it was

Sometimes I think to myself "Self, you know what you need? A 19th Century puppet show. How about a French one? One that has plenty of sexy surprises, a hint of burlesque, a smidgen of violence, and perhaps, a splash of absinthe? And maybe a Punch and Judy scene thrown in too!" And then usually I tell myself to shut the hell up, because where can you find something like that and then OH MY GOSHNESS I FOUND IT.

It started innocently enough. Goldstar sent a notice about an upcoming "adult puppet show" and I sent out an email to everyone I know, imploring them to come with me. Well guess who already had tickets since she's a fancy pants Ovation voter? That's right - Kate! She even let me have her guest ticket (FANCY!) for free.

Ok, so it takes Ryan until yesterday to confirm that yes, he will be joining us for the show and so I buy him a ticket, but there's a mix-up and they send me a ticket for the wrong day and when I try to straighten it out, the show has completely sold out. And not just today, but the entire run. So I put him on a stand-by list and hoped for the best (he was 3rd on the list, for just one ticket, so odds were in our favor).

We made a plan to meet Kate for dinner, but of course, we were all a tad bit late so we dumped the plan for a hip dinner at Hollywood/Highland and instead went to Plan B to meet at the Arc Light theater's restaurant, which is usually a ghost town. Except that when we got there, the place was packed and we couldn't get a table for at least 40 minutes. So we went to Plan C and ate at Baja Fresh, which was actually really good.

SO. We filled our bellies with cheap Mexican food and headed off to the theater to check in. The lobby is an experience in itself. Decorated top to bottom in French style, the Pierrot-esque staff was serving up frivolity and absinthe (en Francais). In the theater, the Green Fairy herself was giving a demonstration on how to properly consume absinthe before the show got started.

The show was to celebrate the 200th birthday of Grand Guignol. The Guignoliers wanted to put on a special show, just for him, and then Punch (along with his battered wife, Judy) showed up and added his puckish mischief to the piece. The sweet fairy tales turned naughty, dangerous, and downright dirty (true to the original stories, which even the Brothers Grimm cleaned up a bit). The showbill promised "absinthe, blood, birthday cake and witch burning" and delivered it all as promised.

It was hilarious and over-the-top and just perfect. I agree with the LA Times review that the Hansel & Gretel scene was a bit long, but it was an otherwise enchanting show. I had no idea what to expect and was delighted to be whisked to France, part of a hostile Punch take-over, privy to the risque stories of Red Riding Hood and even Rapunzel. This is an excellent show, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a good sense of humor and a knowledge of rudimentary French (everyone will greet you "Bonsoir" - just so you know, that means "good evening"). Keep an eye on, where tickets were going for $7.50, but even if they aren't on sale, there is a 'starving artist' ticket available for $20 and at the door, they asked me to only "pay what I could" -- they are very wallet-friendly. (I paid full price, because I am swell lady and I support the arts, but hey, I don't judge you if you want to toss 7 bucks their way and enjoy the show.)

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