The poster art for the Neo-Futurist’s newest show features twenty-five different versions of a Photoshopped portrait: Ibsen buried under mounds of snow; Ibsen dressed in a Viking’s horned helmet; Ibsen’s high forehead and white muttonchops skewered by a Norwegian flag and, in one, Ibsen’s features wiped out altogether, a blank oval where his face used to be. A similar prankish quality runs through “The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen,” Greg Allen’s madcap deconstruction of the final moments of the playwright’s twenty-six works, all of which invariably end with a bang—sometimes literally. The production starts off a little shaky but finds footing soon enough, a funny little exercise that goes full-tilt silly on Ibsen’s most obscure plays. “Lady Inger of Ostraat” is performed as a silent movie, with Dina Connolly (a girl-woman in the best sense) as the titular character, a bug-eyed paranoid who scribbles on a large piece of paper: “I’m crazy.” Condiments become puppets in “The Feast of Solhoug,” performed with a bottle of ketchup, mustard and peanut butter standing in for the characters. (That, plus an entire boxful of silverware.) “Brand” finds Merrie Greenfield speaking in an insanely garbled hickified gibberish, a scene that ends with an avalanche of Styrofoam popcorn—and the funniest cleanup method you’re going to see anywhere this year. Like the Neo-Futurist late-night staple, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” there are abrupt shifts in tone, from the cleverly stupid to dead serious, and in this format it works. “A Doll’s House,” is staged with Nora (Sarah Clark) standing face to face with her husband, lit only by a spotlight, calmly explaining that their marriage is over; and when she leaves, you can hear her staccato footsteps trailing off through the entire building, punctuated by the distant slam of a door. It’s pretty devastating. The cast, which also includes Joe Dempsey, Michael Kingston and the perpetually droll Steve Walker, is entirely in synch with Allen’s vision. The period-suggestive costumes in black and then white (by Emily Albright) are a nice touch, as well. (Nina Metz)
“The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen” plays at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 North Ashland, (773)275-5255 through March 5.