I don’t know what the hell the folks at LCT3 were thinking when they booked Stop Hitting Yourself, a theatrical hodgepodge created by Rude Mechs, the experimental theater collective from Austin, Texas.
For Stop Hitting Yourself (I'm assuming the title has some masturbatory meaning) the company has thrown together songs, tap dancing, deadpan humor, diatribes about global warming and income disparity, some slapstick and a heavy dose of audience participation.
One of the contestants is Wildman, a Christ-like figure who represents altruism. He is lying on the stage when the audience enters and after he persuades an audience member to help him get up, he announces that the coming events will end with his death.
According to the program notes, the show was inspired by thoughts about “charity and money and personal extravagances” as seen through the prism of Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel “Anthem,” about a Big Brother-style society that oppresses individualism. Workshop productions were held in Austin before the show migrated to Lincoln Center.
Stop Hitting Yourself still carries the air of show put on by a smug group of college kids, conspicuous with their intellectualism and more concerned with entertaining one another than the audience. Several cast members cracked up as their colleagues tried to top one another with their revelations during the confession sequences at the performance my friend Ann and I attended.
I thought he might have been a plant but when Ann and I rode down from LCT3’s roof-top Claire Tow Theater, the stripper was on the elevator. “I thought you were part of the show,” another rider said. “No,” replied the stripper before he and his date walked off into the cold winter night. “I guess I’m just a wild kind of guy.”