The Fez and The Sandalwood Box

Two mischievous “dwarves” in red watch from behind a dresser as Professor Higgins startles his servant at the turning point in the Bats’ production of The Fez by Mac Wellman, paired with Wellman’s The Sandalwood Box as part of The Flea’s Perfect Catastrophes Festival of Plays. Original photo by Marina McClure.
We've rated other shows in this collection from two to five stars. Where does this double-header fall on the scale?

By Andrew Andrews

This back-to-back production pairs two of Mac Wellman’s shorter plays into a single performance: The Fez, which was commissioned in 1998 to be printed on T-shirts, and The Sandalwood Box, published in Conjunctions revolutionary theatre issue in 1995. Part of The Flea’s Perfect Catastrophes festival honoring their co-founder, the show is billed as the world premiere for the two works.

Opening with a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, all hell breaks loose in The Fez when Eliza Doolittle literally—and I mean literally—pulls the plug in the middle of Act II, releasing a barrage of so-called “dwarves” dancing like choreographed, meth-headed Oompa-Loompas.

In The Sandalwood Box, a mute student and prop girl at Great Wind Repertory Theater, gets lost in the rain forests of South Brooklyn, where she encounters a strange professor who somehow vitrifies the world’s most interesting catastrophes and stores them in—you guessed it—a sandalwood box. Narrated by a chorus of voices, the story flows like a real-life dream that includes a bus driver reciting a poetic monologue, and an ape-like monster named Osvaldo.

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Andrew Andrews attended The Fez and The Sandalwood Box at The Flea Theater Siggy Theater in New York on Monday, September 30, 2019 @ 7:00pm to write this review.

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