"Watching the lights come up on MBS Productions’ Theatre of Death feels like sitting down to a sumptuous serving of an eclectic sampler plate at an exotic restaurant from a death-fixated planet....Pull up a chair. The stake-knives are razor sharp....Stylish, sharp-witted, fast-paced, the 09 Theatre of Death lurks alive with a fresh, confident ensemble as facile and expressive vocally as they are in movement."
Alexandra Bonifield, critical rant & rave, This Week in the Arts
"Do not be afraid of the darkly comic and eerily unique experience at MBS Productions. Theatre of Death is a scarily amusing assemblage of short dramatic pieces based around the concept of—you guessed it—death...But strangely, yet satisfyingly so, the macabre subject matter generates a copious amount of laugh-out-loud good times...the multitalented ensemble cast weaves its way in out of the seven short plays, with bookending musical pieces, quite well...The interpretation of these mini-plays (by directors Sonna and Jan Toms) is not just a somber meditation on mortality, but a cozying-up-to, necking-with, ravishing-upon, slicing-open and crushing-a-cup-of-wine-with-whilst-guffawing-over-death kind of treatment. And it works." M. Lance Lusk -TheatreJones.com
"Expect the unexpected is a cliché that doesn't even begin to describe these plays....Sonna strung together this series in a brilliant pattern of death designed to thrill, invigorate, entertain and shock his audience. Yes, I was startled and jumped (just a little bit), but I laughed a whole lot and left with my mouth hanging open. Mr. Sonna's characterizations were no less than Broadway level entertainment....
The last play of the night was ...well, I'm still speechless. The audience became a chatter house as we all exitedly talking about that last scene, but it is not for the young or the weak of heart. Open-minded and adventurous souls should grab a seat and take a ride at Sonna's masterful Theatre of Death. Don't miss it as it comes around only once every two years. Highly recommended for your trick or treat festivity." Cheryl Cory, Associate Theatre Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Theatre of DeathOctober 15 – November 1, 2009 Production includes World Premieres, New Translations & New Adaptations
An evening of seven short plays dating back to the Middle Ages linked by one common thread: Death! Laugh, cry, be startled, and scared as we present a collection of black humor plays dealing with this timeless subject. A woman ironing reveals a secret involving the shirt she is pressing; four inept and clumsy people are trapped and they only have 13 minutes to figure out how they will survive; two brothers share a unique bond that will lead one to murder; a man discovers his wife is having affairs with three different men and decides to confront them…
This show launched our company back in 2004, and every two years we bring it back with a new collection of short plays. Every time it is presented it has been hailed by critics and the press as being “elegant”, “macabre”, a “must see”, and this year's productions has already been named as one of the top theatre events to see in the DFW area by the Dallas Morning News. Be sure to join us for our Halloween show in which audience members are encouraged to come in costumes and every patron receives a fun goodie bag full of treats, coupons and/or tickets to other shows at other theatres!
This show is rated R due to intense subject matter, language, violence, and sexual situations.
All Theatre of Death 2009 photos are copyright 2009, Bethany M. Hubbard. You may reprint them but proper credit must be given.
Death Be Proud
Do not be afraid of the darkly comic and eerily unique experience at MBS Productions.
Theatre of Death is a scarily amusing assemblage of short dramatic pieces based around the concept of—you guessed it—death, created and conceived by Mark-Brian Sonna for his troupe at MBS Productions. This year's offering of "Teatro Breve," or "Brief Theatre"-style plays is characterized as more lighthearted than those of past years' shows. But strangely, yet satisfyingly so, the macabre subject matter generates a copious amount of laugh-out-loud good times.
Mr. Sonna's charmingly entertaining introduction kicks things off for the evening, and he maintains that artistically verbose charm throughout his many acting roles too. The rest of the multitalented ensemble cast weaves its way in out of the seven short plays, with bookending musical pieces, quite well. Amanda Rodriguez ably fulfills the theme of deathly versatility as she deftly embodies the souls of various characters in the plays, especially in The Unfaithful Wife, a creepy medieval-flavored bedtime story.
Silas Moores presents a handsomely daft body of strong work during the evening. He more than matches his youthful good looks with naturally amiable acting skills. Sky Williams is an absolute, giddy delight in her myriad roles. She is a vampy artiste of the highest order, gracing the meager stage with her stiletto-sharp comic timing, fierce physicality and flashing eyes.
Quinten Quintero shines, particularly in Compartment 13, a No Exit-type commentary on the Hell that is other people. Quintero is quite funny as the bashfully simple "foreigner" of indiscriminate origin. Carmela Lamberti is delightfully full of musical spice in her many roles, and provides a charming, if a tad long, counterpoint in her solo play, How to Iron a Shirt.
Alejandro de la Costa's sets and costumes are intentionally simple and stark to fit the tradition of the form. The Stone Cottage’s setup does not allow for much in the way of ornate set pieces, dominated as it is by a small amount of wooden space and few entryways. Mr. de la Costa makes the most of the room with a rustic table and chairs and a simple, black screen featuring an Angel of Death painting by Sonna, framed by lacy curtains. The costumes are mostly black and white with some elements in mysterious red. Mr. Sonna's sound and original music pieces are suitably gothic and unnerving; however, do not be surprised if you find yourself humming them later.
The interpretation of these mini-plays (by directors Sonna and Jan Toms) is not just a somber meditation on mortality, but a cozying-up-to, necking-with, ravishing-upon, slicing-open and crushing-a-cup-of-wine-with-whilst-guffawing-over-death kind of treatment. And it works.
Please note well that the salty and bawdy nature of the show is for the mature and open-minded.
Mr. Lusk's day job is teaching English and Humanities at St. Alcuin in Dallas. His full-time gig is being a Shakespeare nerd. He also has an unhealthy love for baseball, pancakes and motorcycles
Bon Appetit with Bite: Theatre of Death
Alexandra Bonifield, critical rant & rave, This Week in the Arts
Watching the lights come up on MBS Productions’ Theatre of Death feels like sitting down to a sumptuous serving of an eclectic sampler plate at an exotic restaurant from a death-fixated planet. This sly stage smorgasbord offers robust, sour tastes mixed with equal parts of delicately sweet, refined elements that appear at unexpected moments, dished up in unanticipated courses. Ingested as a whole, Theatre of Death serves up fine fare for a sophisticated palate with strong stomach for the bizarre and abnormal. Death ubiquitous dines at a table dressed with ominous elegance. Pull up a chair. The stake-knives are razor sharp.
Using a traditional but overlooked Spanish comedy genre from the Middle Ages, Teatro Breve, Mark-Brian Sonna presents seven short complete works where death holds significance as over-riding theme. This year’s menu is generally lighter than previous years’ selections, not as full of sinister metaphor and sanguinary sorrow bridging the divide between the quick and the dead. Stylish, sharp-witted, fast-paced, the 09 Theatre of Death lurks alive with a fresh, confident ensemble as facile and expressive vocally as they are in movement.
Some information about each play:
Music & Lyrics by Mark-Brian Sonna, 2009
This chant asks for the spirit of Death to come and inspire.
The Unfaithful Wife,
Anonymous, circa 1460
This very short play is a prime example of Medieval “Teatro Breve” in which a street performer would tell a tale that would capture passer-by’s attention, and hopefully money.*
Wach my Back,
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, 1640
This brief comedy is written by the “Shakespeare” of Spanish Theatre.The ending is unexpectedly gruesome.*
Christmas Eve of 1836,
Mariano José de Larra, 1837
This was the last work written by de Larra who was one of the most pre-eminent writers of the era.He committed suicide shortly after penning it.*
Alejandro de la Costa, 2009
This is the fourth installment in the ever so popular and outrageous “13” plays.Four strangers enter a compartment thinking it is a ride at the State Fair.Chaos ensues when they realize that they might be gassed to death unless each reveals their worst fear.This black comedy runs in real time and lasts 13 minutes.
The Lively Corpses,
Luis Quiñones de Benavente, 1645
This is the most famous comedy of this genre; it is also perhaps one the filthiest play in existence.It was written specifically for the famous actor Juan Rana.The playwright was one of the pre-eminent writers of the era.Rana was openly gay, and the Inquisitor had him arrested.The King and Queen of Spain released him from jail and then pardoned him for he was so beloved by the public and he was their favorite actor.Benavente knew that this would be Rana’s first performance after his release, and it would be attended by the Royals and the inquisitor.All the preeminent actors of the day joined him in solidarity to play the various roles.The result was the most raucous, foul mouthed, homosexually laden play perhaps ever written.The Monarchs adored the show.The inquisitor left the theatre powerless and humiliated.*
Do you know how ti Iron a Shirt ?
Carmela Lamberti, 2009
A woman ironing reveals a secret involving the shirt she is pressing.
Mark-Brian Sonna, 2009
Two brothers share a unique bond that will lead to murder.
Music & Lyrics by Mark-Brian Sonna 2009
This chant acknowledges the grip Death has on all our lives while also requesting that it comes visit us at another time.