A world premiere at Washington Ensemble Theatre always has potential. It could be a one-woman musical about cancer, or a story of a girl who falls in love with a robot told without any dialogue. Those were some of my favorite creations—smart, funny, bizarre, innovative—and exactly what I’ve come to expect from the tiny fringe theater on 19th Avenue.
Tonight’s premiere of Bed Snake, written by WET co-artistic directors Noah Benezra and Hannah Victoria Franklin, promises to “melt your face.” I kind of like my face, so I don’t know if I’m up for that. But when I chatted with Franklin about the show last week, I learned that at its core is the familiar Faust story of a man who sells his soul to the devil for fame and fortune. Only this time, it’s set inside a rap video.
Wannabe star Wolf makes a deal with snaky lady Kry$tal and rap duo Blood Kry$tal Wolf is unleashed on the world. They’re (loosely) inspired by South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, who also prefer dollar signs to the letter S and love to make audiences uncomfortable. (David Letterman didn’t know what to make of their freaky face masks and black contacts.) “They’re weird, offensive, and hysterical in a sideways way,” Franklin said of Die Antwoord. “We said, Let’s riff on that.”
It’s going to be a manic concert-as-theater performance with homemade music videos, strobe lights, crunk, hip-hop, and somewhere in there, a story. Fingers crossed.
May 11–28, Washington Ensemble Theatre, $10–$25