This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

10Mar/11

SWANN!!!

Jenn Harris, Jack Ferver, and QWAN take on BLACK SWAN at P.S. 122 (photo by Christian Coulson)

Performance Space 122
150 First Ave. at Ninth St.
March 10-12, $15
www.ps122.org

In his solo and company work, choreographer, director, and performer Jack Ferver has twisted and tweaked books, films, and plays in such experimental productions as Rumble Ghost (which reimagined scenes from Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist), Cliterature and Camille vs. Ken, The Ophelia Project, and A Movie Star Needs a Movie. Last year, Ferver’s QWAN (Quality Without a Name) Company presented a staged parody reading of Richard Eyre’s 2006 romantic thriller Notes on a Scandal, and now they’re riffing all over Darren Aronofsky’s fabulously deep and cheesy piece of nonstop entertainment, the Oscar-nominated Black Swan. Ferver plays the role of bad girl Lily, who introduces good girl Nina (Jenn Harris) to her dark side as she and her mother (Queer as Folk’s Randy Harrison) struggle to convince choreographer Tomas (Christian Coulson) that Nina deserves the lead in a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Since Black Swan already has plenty of meta-parody in it, there’s no telling where Ferver might take it in this world premiere at P.S. 122.

Update: As at previous Jack Ferver productions, the audience filters into P.S. 122’s upstairs theater to find Ferver and company already onstage, in this case limbering up as if preparing for a dance. But once their latest production, SWAN!!!, gets under way, the five performers primarily stay seated on chairs arranged in a semicircle, reading from a hysterically tweaked script of Darren Aronofsky’s beautifully cheesy, Oscar-nominated thriller, Black Swan, written by Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin, and Andres Heinz. SWAN!!! is every bit as outrageously funny as you’d like it to be as QWAN (Quality Without a Name) pays wonderful homage to the film’s psychological depth and confounding craziness. Front and center is Jenn Harris as Nina, making wacky faces, speaking in a high-pitched voice, and approaching the audience whenever she has to throw up, which is often. Ferver, when he isn’t laughing at the antics of the others, nails the role of Lily, mimicking Mila Kunis to great effect. Christian Coulson’s French accent as womanizing choreographer Tomas gets ever-more over-the-top, as does Randy Harrison’s interpretation of Barbara Hershey as Nina’s overprotective mother. (Just wait till you see how they handle Mom’s obsession with painting pictures of her daughter, while the cake scene might have you rolling on the floor.) And Matthew Wilkas has a blast playing Winona Ryder, who is referred to throughout by the actress’s name, not the character she plays in the film, Tomas’s former prima ballerina, the deeply troubled Beth. (The several references to Lypsinka, however, fall flat, as apparently even this East Village crowd did not know — or care — that Lypsinka creator John Epperson plays the rehearsal pianist in Black Swan.) The cast also has a ball playing off the film’s instantly famous lesbian scene, which here becomes a riotous romp between Ferver and Harris, layered with laughs relating to gender identity and real and on-screen homosexuality. The low-budget SWAN!!!, which is also not afraid to toss in plenty of legitimately low-grade toilet humor — who knew Natalie Portman was such a fine flatulator — is an absolute hoot.

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