2brents bring comedy, madness to Anchorage

It’s not every day when you come across some truly unique theater, but the new group 2brents Mad Histrionics has struck a chord with Anchorage audiences in its production of “Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends: A Final Evening With the Illuminati.”

Cyrano’s Off-Center Playhouse was nearly packed at the June 4 performance, and the audience experienced something totally out of the ordinary.

As you walk into the theater, a shirtless priest wearing a cape and stretch pants welcomes you to the service while passing out the programs. Choral chanting eerily plays in the background while the cast wanders aimlessly around the set that looks like a dank bomb shelter: a dirty cot center stage, several crosses made of soda cans and duct tape, pallets scattered around, posters of basketball players, a rickety pulpit – the stage has been transformed into a madhouse.

And the madness had just begun.

The play takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, but all the audience gets to see is the shabby sanctuary described above.

Brent Bateman, local theater aficionado, plays Rev. Eddie, who struggles with the ideas behind religion while dealing with a creeping mental illness and paranoia.

Brent Glenn, lighting professor at UAA and director of “Polaroid Stories,” plays Brother Lawrence, a disfigured hunchback and close friend of Eddie’s, who has visions of women in silver spandex from outer space who give him messages.

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Most of the show involves these two characters, but the small supporting cast adds to the weirdness.

Eddie and Lawrence have been living alone in the shelter since the nerve gas killed everyone on Earth. Eddie believes there are people watching him and laughing and whispering at him while he gives his service. He can only assume that it’s the dreaded Illuminati, an 18th century secret society made up of highly enlightened people who, unbeknownst to everyone, had taken over the world.

Eddie believes that both he and Lawrence are in a battle with Satan, who is wholly responsible for Eddie’s junk mail, messing with his credit and revoking his license.

The play takes place in modern times and involves many pop-culture references—from basketball references to Heart’s “Barracuda” and Kelis’ milkshake song.

Anchorage, prepare to be shocked and maybe even offended. “Illuminati” relentlessly pokes fun at organized religion and is pretty confrontational. Masturbation, homosexuality, stripping, blasphemy – it’s all in there, so brace yourself.

The plot weaves between Eddie’s reality and his psychotic imagination, where St. Paul is a construction worker who has been celibate for so long that homosexuality doesn’t sound so bad to him, or a musical interlude about how Jesus was a “playa.” The imaginary scenes are played by the two Brents and the transitions are seamless.

“Illuminati” is physical, loud, lewd and sweaty – Bateman wears red pajamas throughout and Glenn has several layers of costumes to accommodate fast scene changes. Glenn’s ability to take on many different roles is impressive. His facial features look painful at times and his body language is comedic. Both Brents work off each other well and they end up creating some wildly hilarious comedy that leaves the audience in stitches.

The show isn’t just a comedy. It has serious undertones dealing with the rules of religion and the actors are spot on during the emotional scenes.

The 2brents have taken this show, written by Eddie Levi Lee and Larry Larson, and made it their own. They harass the audience members and bring them into their world. They literally get a couple of people up on stage to participate.

You may not learn anything before the world ends by watching this show, but if you want to be truly entertained, then “Illuminati” shouldn’t be missed. It’s the must-see show of the summer that’s so totally bizarre you might leave bewildered, but happy all the same.

 

“Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends: A Final Evening With the Illuminati” plays at Cyrano’s Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through June 18. Tickets are $12.50-$15 and can be reserved by calling 274-2599.