With an uncanny gift for self deprecation and a sharp eye for human frailties, the fearless Dutch troupe Kassys brings its ironic and immensely funny show to the 2009 Spoleto Festival USA. Combining film and live performance in equal measure, what appears to be a deceptively simple story eventually becomes a sharp commentary on contemporary sensationalism and our reality TV culture.
WHAT IS IT? Good Cop Bad Cop is the creation of the Dutch theater collective Kassys. The company’s founders Liesbeth Gritter and Mette van der Sijs specialize in the Theater of the Absurd. In this case, they turn the conventions of reality TV upside down to show us that reality TV isn’t really reality at all but rather a form of human communication that trades in the art of self-delusion.
WHY SEE IT? How do they do this? We don’t really know. That mystery alone is reason to see this show. To the best of our knowledge, it has something to do with impersonating cats and dogs with the thinking that animals are not susceptable to self-delusion. Animals have no desire to be more important than they are and therefore do not succomb to the seductions of reality TV — i.e., when the point of a narrative arrives in which a character is supposed to feel something like, say, envy, then that character, who is a real person acting according to the machinations of a group of real people, is expected to express envy whether or not in fact that character feels envy at all. The absurd thing is that people yield to the demands of the narrative and turn themselves into characters. In other words, they become fictions. That’s what Good Cop Bad Cop is about (we think), and if the Dutch duo pulls this off, it’s going to be amazing.
WHO SHOULD GO? If you like concrete characters in concrete settings — like The Odd Couple — then skip Good Cop Bad Cop. But if you get off on abstract stories, absurdist theater, and a seriously arch WTF factor — like, say, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, in which people turn into rhinos for some seemingly inexplicable reason — then this is for you. (John Stoehr)