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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
By Jana J. Monji

Helmut Krausser's Leatherface chronicles neither the Texas Chainsaw Massacre as hinted in the title nor an instance of police brutality as suggested by the press materials.

As Danila Korogodsky's pristine white, airy loft indicates, we are dealing with innocents. These innocents, though unable to maintain a steady job, have a Mr. Clean streak. The floor is sparkling white, the bed sheets covering the mattress on the floor are white. The small refrigerator is white. The brick walls give us a relief from snow blindness with their muted reds and greys. The VCR is playing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and videos like the Blair Witch Project lie waiting to be played. The unnamed male character (Chace Farguson) smears blood artistically on to an apron that he then dons. He has just bought a vibrant green chainsaw. He starts it up so the audience can experience the fumes and the nervous proximity to the steel teeth.

Who is this brawny man with shoulder length blonde hair? Unexpectedly, the man's unnamed female significant other (Tannis Hanson) returns, screaming when she sees the blood. She has just lost her barmaid job and gotten a bit sloshed. He explains, "There's nothing more disgusting than a drunk barmaid; it's a perversion of a paradox."

Krausser's play, translated by Tony Meech, intellectualizes the underclass. The man will have money in November after his reading, Until then, he will be supported by this woman whom he asks to give him "blind trust." ""You've got trust and you've got contempt. . .This is your last chance for blind trust in me,"" he declares. She answers, ""I've been blind long enough. . .I've been living with a lunatic, an infantile nutcase." Yet despite this assessment, she quickly, all too quickly accepts the chainsaw that he calls a "metaphor." "She's here to protect you," he insists.

So where does the police brutality come in? After the man convinces the woman the chainsaw is power, they tease the police, pretending he's holding her hostage.

Farguson has a puppy-dog quality that almost makes him believable as a wordsmith out of touch with reality. Hanson's role is merely a convenience--a foil for the plot that doesn't quite make any sense. Instead of bringing a sense of urgency or threat, director Howard Burman gives us naivete with only a sliver of lunacy. The characters are portrayed neither as dangerously sloshed or recklessly wanton. Are they just so stupid they couldn't predict the tragedy that awaits? The result indulges Krausser's poetic meanderings via Meech's translation yet doesn't touch the heart or the mind. Burman's staging of the final sequence ends this exercise with a logistically false moment unless you believe in magic bullets.

Ultimately, this play doesn't deliver the suggested gore from the title and the ending doesn't fulfill the promise of police brutality. This is false advertising at its worst.

Written Helmut Krausser
Translated by Tony Meech
Directed by Howard Burman
Cast: Chace Farguson (He), Tannis Hanson (She), Jason K. Martin (Neighbor/Policeman)
Set Design: Danila Korogodsky
Light Design: Chris Kittrell
Costume Design: Amber D. Johnson
Sound Design: Mark Abel
Stage Manager: Eubani Correa
Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes with no intermission
Edison Theatre, 213 E. Broadway, Long Beach. (562) 432-1818
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. $15-$20. Ends March 15.
Review of Feb. 21 performance.
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