'Pygmalion' and 'Bat Boy: The Musical'
Despite the fact that the Guthrie Theater's production of "Pygmalion" (better known in some circles as "My Fair Lady") is set in early 20th century England and Minneapolis Musical Theater's horror spoof, "Bat Boy: The Musical" takes place in 1990s West Virginia, these shows bear some bizarre resemblances.
In fact, their titles and characters are practically interchangeable. Both plays parody assimilation and challenge conventional wisdom. And despite their drastically contrasting settings, these tales present makeshift families that adopt outsiders in the hopes of molding them to fit in with polite society. The outcome of such attempts, of course, are rife with bloopers as both victims/projects make indelible mistakes, lacking the complete training to successfully plow thru
"Pygmalion's" linguistics Professor Higgins attempts to carve rough-around-the-edges Cockney girl Eliza Doolittle into an aristocratic duchess. "Bat Boy: The Musical" is the story of a freakish hybrid (half boy, half bat) named Edgar whom a veterinarian hopes to rehabilitate ("Bat Boy" is based on a story that appeared in the "Weekly World News" and isn't, as its name may suggest, Batman's memoirs of life as a young superhero).
Eliza and Bat Boy are obvious aliens: Eliza is clearly a second-class citizen, evidenced by her terrible grammar, poor wardrobe and bad manners. Meanwhile, Bat Boy is betrayed by oversized pointy ears and garishly wide eyes.
And both Eliza and Bat Boy couple off with their respective social tutors -- Eliza is paired with Professor Higgins while Bat Boy clings to his new "sister," or his mentor's daughter.
What happens to these refugees? What dangerous secret lies with Bat Boy? Who will either of these two misfits be when their trainers are done with them? Go to both and impress your friends with your astute powers of comparison.
'Pygmalion' runs thru Nov. 7, Tuesdays-Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., (plus, 1 p.m. matinees on select Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays) Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Pl. $14-$49. 377-2224.
'Bat Boy: The Musical' runs Fridays-Sundays thru Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. (plus Monday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 24, 2:30 p.m.), Hennepin Stages, 824 Hennepin Ave. S. $24. 673-0404.
The American flag has dodged in and out of view with especial force in recent years, appearing on everything from windows to t-shirts. Like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, the red, white and blue icon has shown up with ubiquity in national crisis. It's a symbol of national devotion, and as such is certain to garner extreme reactions. Some consider the flag sacred, while others are apt to exercise their right to burn it.
In the Guthrie commissioned play (part of their New Play Program), "Flags," we watch a family's patriotism ebb and flow. Questioning the true meaning of patriotism, a grieving American family must cope with consequences of war in Iraq. This family's waning enthusiasm for the flag and its proper placement thrusts them into the political limelight. Dubbed both as "heroes with a cause" and "enemies of the state" by the press, they must fend off a judgmental world.
"Flags" was written by playwright Jane Martin, the pseudonym for a notable playwright who's written numerous dramas about American character and conflict, dealing with school shootings, constitutional rights, abortion and criminality.
Thru Oct. 31, Wednesday-Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m., Sunday 3 and 7 p.m. Mixed Blood Theater, 1501 S. 4th St. $10-$25. 338-6131.
Anna Pratt can be reached at email@example.com.