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SWAGGER, NOT STYLE

The worldwide headquarters and hindquarters of freelance writer Chris Klimek

They Want Their Money Back If You're Alive at 33: WSC Avant Bard's The Tooth of Crime

Chris Klimek

John Tweel sits atop a throne of guitars as Hoss.

John Tweel sits atop a throne of guitars as Hoss.

I struggled with Kathleen Akerley's production of Sam Shepard's The Tooth of Crime after I saw it last weekend. The play is a fascinating time capsule of how much danger and possibility pop music, and rock and roll specifically, must've still had when Shepard wrote it back in 1972. That gives it a charm that partially compensates for the fact the (apparently) postapocalyptic world it's set in is so cryptic and thinly drawn.

If you're going to see it -- and Tom Carman's performance is a good reason to, though you'll have to stick around past intermission to see him -- you'll want to glance at the synopsis on Shepard's official site or the play's Wikipedia page first. I almost always do advance reconnaissance on a show I'm reviewing anyway, because you know, I'm a stone pro over here. But generally speaking, one shouldn't need a synopsis just to be able to follow what's happening.

(Irrelevant thing I learned: A 2006 revival of Shepard's original version of the play -- that is, not the revised mid-90s script that the production I reviewed uses -- starred Ray Wise, who I actually had lunch with once. He treated me to his impression of Paul Verhoeven, who directed him in RoboCop, saying now I suppose that we are fucked! Nice guy, Ray Wise.)

Tom Carman is Crow, the reason to go.

Tom Carman is Crow, the reason to go.

Anyway. I'm still thinking about The Tooth of Crime a week after I saw it. So in a strange way I'm more grateful for this -- a flawed production of a flawed play -- than I am for the Shakepeare Theater Company's The Servant of Two Masters, a completely successful, crowd-pleasing revival of an 18th century comedy that many of my colleagues at the City Paper and elsewhere loved. Me? I liked it well enough but would have forgotten it entirely on the four-stop Metro ride home if I hadn't had to write about it. Different strokes for different folks.