They’re often wearing masks or garish make-up to extenuate the effect. The gang has never been afraid to cause a ruckus on stage or challenge its audience with a sense of anarchy.
The result has often been a liberating and revelatory experience for their audiences. Other times, not so much.
The Gang’s latest production, “Klüb,” is a revival of their 1992 hit with some changes to the original text by Mitch Watson. The scene is set at an old vaudeville house where a group of freakish, aging entertainers are desperately auditioning for a chance to escape the building.
They perform for a sadistic director who can only be heard over a monitor and who doesn’t hesitate to use his power to humiliate and demean the actors. As the characters tear each other apart, we get the feeling we’re watching an actor’s worst nightmare.
There is interesting emotional material here. The portrayal of individuals so completely in denial over their prospects as entertainers touches a nerve in a town filled with would-be superstars.
And yet with all the craziness that proceeds, all the cursing and fake blood, the show never settles down to address the subject with enough sensitivity to make us care. The show is like a loud and obnoxious drunk too inebriated to deal with his own pain.
Coming from such a talented group of actors, it seems a waste.
The Ivy Substation is located at 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City. For more information, visit www.theactorsgang.com.