Collapse Theater Shows Tyler Perry How It's Done

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Collapse Theater put on its second production, Fuck the Earth Night, to a packed house at Visual Arts Collective on Friday.

The evening was a three-act collection of sketches, musical performances and short films loosely based on satirical interpretations of Earth Day.

A one-act play depicted two self-proclaimed greenies arguing over which would reduce their carbon footprint further, genocide or suicide. Local musician Elijah Jensen sang a tender ballad about laying a blanket on the grass to "fuck the Earth." Heidi Kraay built a paper nest as a voiceover recounted humanity's demise from an insect rebellion and her flight underground, potentially as the last living human.

Though its connection to Earth Day or issues of the environment was a stretch, a definite high point of the evening was Squirrel Mommy, a new short film from Kelly Broich, the creator of Collapse Theater.

The film features Broich's recurring character, Neena (a bearded Broich in glasses, a wig and a dress) deciding to adopt baby squirrels in a fit of jealousy after her friend Wendy—also played by a bearded man in a dress—announces she is pregnant. Take note, Tyler Perry. That's how it's done.

The 8-minute film features scenes that could make John Waters blush and social conservatives scream about the decline of American morals. And they're probably right. But watching a bearded man in a dress "milk" poo out of a baby squirrel after a feeding while cooing at it lovingly, there's no way anyone could accuse Broich of cowardice in his art.

But what really makes the film is the deadly serious production values applied to material so bizarre. Squirrel Mommy's colors are bright, its edits are tight and its script is polished. Even the sound design is good, with echoing pulses and tones that mirror the dreamy, nearly psychedelic imagery.

Far too often, absurdism is a label applied to art that is actually incoherent. That way, if viewers don't understand it, it's their fault for being square. But Squirrel Mommy is so well-produced that even those repulsed by it—which is likely to be a large swath of cinemagoers—would be hard pressed to attack it on anything other than thematic grounds.

Collapse Theater has yet to schedule its next performance, but is planning a series of films and theatrical productions throughout 2011. So far, they've only been one-night affairs, but Broich may extend the runs on future productions.