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Larry Litt


Written by Carmen Barika
With HANNIBAL, Darryl Harris, Dominic Marcus and Carmen Barika
Directed by Aixa Kendrick at DR2 Theatre--The Daryl Roth Theatre
20 Union Square East (@ East 15th St)
SAT 8/19 @ 9:30 – 11
SUN 8/20 @ 2:15 – 3:45
WED 8/23 @ 5:45 – 7:15
THUR 8/24 @ 8 – 9:30
FRI 8/25 @ 10:30 – 12
SAT 8/26 @ 6:15 – 7:45

When a comedienne with fully formed cabaret pipes ventures into fringe theater with a topical tragicomedy, anything can happen. That’s why Carmen Barika’s new offering for this year’s NY Fringe Fest is unique, exotic and tantilizingly sexy.

Carmen has a story to tell that’s a mix of her current New Orleans refugee autobiography and the world of cabaret artists seeking fame and fortune on the silver screen.

Carmen’s XXXOTIKA character is at first sight a very well proportioned topless dancer seeking love and fame in New Orleans from incredibly self centered men who use her, for both her body and her intriguing story. Remarkably self aware, she’s a Gypsy Rose Lee style story teller with all the wit and glamour, but none of the success. Therein lies the tale of woe and many charming, moving songs written by Carmen. Her songwriting is enhanced by her appropriate but not over the top vamping. She moves like a graceful sylph capturing each word in her movement.

Darryl Harris plays Sigmond, a former boho poet turned corporate media journalist. For the money, he says. His performance is adequately smarmy and manipulative of XXXOTIKA. He doesn’t try to hide his sense of loss over his selling out, instead he uses it as an excuse to be ever more insincere.

Sigmond is contrasted by the Poet Boy character played by real life street poet HANNIBAL. He puts poetry in its stereotypical 21st century tortuous America habitat-the street. Sincere, talented and broke artists living hand to mouth in Bush’s corporate Disneyland. Against insurmountable obstacles he’ll never give up. Because real artists just don’t. HANNIBAL plays this poet’s romantic, sad and accusatory voice brilliantly as a pathetic reminder that we live in a world of great success and failure. I almost fell out of my seat when she performed Bush for Bush, one of the funniest political parodies I’ve ever seen.

Jimmy the Heckler is another reminder of the world of artists and their audience. Dominic Marcus plays him as an ill-mannered yet gentle representative of that class of audience we call voyeurs. He’s only too eager to get involved in the girlie action as long as there are no consequences. He’s all the men who go to topless bars to hoot and howl, then go home to the little woman who will comfort their hangovers.

By the time this entertainment is over you wish Carmen were performing her songs in a cabaret so one could hear her beautiful voice make you dream of sophisticated love and its warm, witty afterglow. She’s an adult, writing for adults who understand politics and can still love and laugh. I do hope she gets a musical arranger and musicinas who will help her transport her singing and songwriting to wider audiences.

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