By Rebecca N. Robertson
Photos by Alana Jacoby
I admit that I had no knowledge of the Japanese yakuza B-movie genre of film when I chose to see Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill! at the New York Fringe Festival on Wednesday night. Walking into a pre-show of actors and musician randomly suiting up, warming up, and casually cracking jokes on the stage did not mentally prepare me for what I saw once the show began. However, Brooklyn-based Depth Charge has created a work that stands on its own -- no love or knowledge of the film genre or of the film that inspired the show is necessary to fully enjoy this well-crafted romp in absurdist secret agent land.
Seijun Suzuki's "Branded to Kill" was critically bashed in the 1960's, later becoming a well-loved cult classic, and Butterfly's Writer/Director Patrick Harrison treats this, his inspiration, with same respect and admiration of a geeky kid emulating his favorite superhero for whom he surely knows absolutely everything about. But it seems his greatest achievement is in the direction of an excellent ensemble of actors. From meticulously presented fight scenes of expressionistic proportions to a mouthful of paper butterflies, the movement and imagery of the piece is superbly timed, keeping a fervent pace throughout gunfights, maintaining suspense during dialogue, and allowing the mind to settle into scenes of psychedelic interlude. Additionally, both Dave Harrington's live music and Nancy Kwon's original film projections are integral to the ensemble and serve as characters in the adventure, furthering the action and telling the story with as much skill and consistency as the seven actors onstage.
This is a must-see show in a must-do festival and, given the success stories of those smash hits that started out in these tiny village venues inhabited by the New York Fringe Festival in years past, I look forward to seeing what is in store for Depth Charge and Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill! in its production future.
Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill!
Written and Directed by Patrick Harrison
Music Composed and Performed by David Harrington
Video and Film Design by Nancy Kwon
Lighting Design: Alana Jacoby
Fight Choreography: Adam Scott Mazer
Puppetry Design: Jeff Wood
Featuring: Patrick Harrison, Margaret Odette Perkins, Adam Scott Mazer, Alexandra Hellquist, Andrew Krug, Gerrardo Macias, and Dan Rogers
Venue #5: First Floor Theater @ LA MAMA
Fri 13 @ 7
Sun 15 @ NOON
Mon 16 @ 8:30
Wed 18 @ 8
Thu 19 @ 2