“Female impersonation is a rather curious career choice for a woman, Miss Coo.” (Otto)
A feted first line for Nagy’s fourth play, and the last I’m zapping through for right now. Again, it takes a form somewhat beyond conventon – as Michael Coveney writes in the Methuen edition’s introduction: “…all the various strands of action seem to be manipulated by Otto Mink, a sleazy, shadowy figure not unlike, as my colleague Paul Taylor pointed out, the Duke of dark corners in Measure for Measure”
“Do you think Saint Veronica had any talent? Or Saints Theresa, Bernadette and Anthony, for that matter? […] The hand of God provided their direction. They were empty vessels waiting to be filled with relevance. Just as you are an empty vessel waiting for me to fill you.” (Otto)
And he fills plenty, an unreadable puppetmaster pulling the plotlines of disperate characters – including a female female impersonator, a repo man, a supremacist fugitive, a disgraced reporter and more – ever tighter, until they all come together for a finale which is also an eclipse. “Adapt to circumstance. Assimilate. Conquer. Mr. Mink’s triple crown for success.” (Loretta)
I could be wrong, but The Strip feels like the point where all the devices Nagy had jury-rigged for serious purposes – often employed in quite an austere fashion – ripened to an extent she not only had total control, but could start to have fun – it’s positively carnivalesque. Especially nice is how narrative acts can trigger short circuit symbolism – a homophobe, kissed, drops dead (he thinks – gets better).
“I’m like a doormat. People coming and going, breaking and entering, the whole time.” (Ava)
Lateralism keeps seeping – characters spill across the stage – occasionally united via phone calls and letters between scenes, rippling via domino dumbshow and mime performances, relaying via infections and computer astrology, subtitled via a ouija board which spells out messages, via, well… “Baby Ray likes you. He’s a genius and communicates with me telepathically. What is your sun sign?” (Loretta). The climax of the first act sees the whole parade simultaneously up-ended like a chain of island realities under one heavy psychic weather system.
“Have you noticed the alarming rate of coincidences lately?” (Suzy)