Dan Carbone reclaims the Dark Room's late-night stage with wild fits of storytelling and subconscious reverie
THEATER I don't know from reclaiming rituals, but when I saw the gangling guy in the deer mask and beige unitard prancing around the stage once more, I knew the vernal equinox could not be far behind. Herald of this new season is none other than writer-performer Dan Carbone, a long-cherished and uniquely committed Bay Area talent who remarkably has eluded actually being committed. Back on March 6, Carbone was keeping it surreal in the Mission with a revival of two gems, Up from the Ground and There Be Monsters! (the latter featuring the aforementioned deer-man, among its varied and unexpected menagerie).
Carbone's upcoming single-evening production lays these two works to bed while promising new dreams directly ahead. He returns to the Dark Room with entirely new material, including the premiere of something called Ol' Blue Balls, pertaining to an encounter between Frank Sinatra and a little girl in the Eisenhower era, according to a press release, as well as a cross-cultural encounter called The Koreans and the piquantly titled Debbie and the Demons.
For those still woefully unfamiliar with Carbone's idiosyncratic oeuvre, the March 6 evening proceeded by quiet but wild fits of storytelling and subconscious reverie into a genially demented and devilishly clever assemblage of monologue, nursery rhyme, and Dada dreamscape. Ideas rushed out of Carbone's head amid a fit of logorrhea as bright and delighting as the silver tinsel yanked from the felt-lined anus of the well-soiled stuffed doggy in Monsters!
Befitting the late-night format, there were even some special guests. No less than Richard Chamberlain, ladies and gentlemen, was called out of the audience and onto the stage. And sure enough, bounding up with an aging, nearly forgotten celeb's practiced modesty and eager step was a guy who looked at least not utterly unlike Chamberlain, the star of TV's indelible Shogun miniseries, who let go a spiel too airily bizarre to recount here without much more coffee, its edge tempered by a vague mixture of nostalgia, regret, and that period ennui Jimmy Carter dubbed America's malaise. Giddy days those might have seemed too from the vantage of today's doom-clouded depravity, were it not for the growing suspicion that this guy isn't Richard Chamberlain at all and probably insane.
The late-show slot at the Dark Room is altogether apt. Carbone's stage occupies a space somewhere between Pee Wee's Playhouse and Night Gallery. It's such stuff as vaguely inappropriate dreams are made on. In so far as the Dark Room shows — which began in February with Carbone opening for Rick Shapiro — stand to be a regular thing, Satan and audiences willing, we can all rest uneasier.
NEW TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION
Sat/3, 10 p.m., $8
2263 Mission, SF