Telluride’s SquidShow: Big love for “Big Love” at Ah Haa

Telluride’s SquidShow: Big love for “Big Love” at Ah Haa

It all worked out a whole lot better than "The BIg Chill," when this group of three friends, all Bennington College alums, got together for a reunion of sorts.

 Sasha Cuciniello is the tireless, resourceful founder/director/principal actor of Telluride's popular grassroots theatre troupe, SquidShow, a woman who throws herself into her work body and soul, and expects – and gets – the same from her fellow thespians. Sasha's friend, Kristina Smith, is now a New York-based director who appears to give her actors a lot of rope and an affectionate pat on the butt before sending them out on a tightrope without a safety net, a good thing in a community that thrives on risk-taking. The third musketeer is Alexei Kaleina, a videographer, with a sharp eye and wit to match. His special effects added a whole other dimension to the group project – with a wink to "Miss Saigon."  Sasha, Krissy, and Alexei conspired to adapt Charles L. Mee's "Big Love," and the result was a theatrical free-for-all and tour de force of physical theatre that felt at once spontaneous, urgent, and unmistakably hip. Monday night was about as much fun as anyone could have with clothes on – and what clothes. Costumes, including fabulous deconstructed wedding gowns, were created by the extravagantly talented Sue Hobby.

Mee is known for monumental feats of theatrical derring-do, admixtures of classical sources – "Big Love" is based on "The Suppliant Women" by Aeschylus –   and pop music. These theatrical Frankensteins should not live, no more than the original, but when they walk and talk, they read as high voltage cocktails of contemporary myths and moods. And the Squids drank lustfully.

No doubt many feminist battles have been hard fought and won over the past  decades, but rarely have a group of men and women had such a great time suspending the current ceasefire as the Squids in "Big Love." (And who cares if the guys give voice to a set of attitudes that might have been considered retrogressive in a Marine barracks 40 years ago.) Kudos to the ensemble cast –  Jeb Berrier, Ashley Boling, Sam Burgess, Sasha Cuciniello, Ethan Hale, Linda Levin, Dahlia Mertens, Brittany Miller, Tom Shane, Colin Sullivan, Amy Thomas –  for turning in double black diamond performances Martha Graham would have applauded. (All those drops to the floor.)

Bottom line: "Big Love"  contains some pretty big ideas about justice and revenge, but the Squid's adaptation was mostly big fun.

All four performances of "Big Love" at the Ah Haa School for the Arts were sold out, including Sunday and Monday, February 28 and March 1, but the Squids added one more show on Tuesday, March 2, 8 p.m.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.