Sometimes, being snowed in can be productive — particularly when you have a can of beans and a bottle of whiskey at your disposal.

This explains how the Philadelphia-based theater company PuppeTyranny came up with the idea for “Beans! Beans! Beans!”, which the troupe will perform in Portland on Wednesday.

“It’s an original play that’s sort of a cross between an Agatha Christie whodunit and an Oscar Wilde comedy of manners,” said cast member Zac Palladino by phone in Richmond, Va., where the company was performing earlier this week. “We replaced all substances of food or liquid on stage with beans.”

The play even uses beans as a stand-in for laudanum, a popular Victorian-era beverage made from opium and alcohol. Palladino said these magical beans make an appearance during “a very dramatic psychedelic freak-out in the third act.”

With a cast made up of three actors and two musicians, the traveling show’s promotional material promises a “macabre tale, full of tom-foolery and folly. Two dueling dandies vie for social status as they throw an unexpectedly explosive party. Attended by a rag tag ensemble of guests that include unemployed falconers, aeronauts, avant-garde sand painters, a world famous chanteuse, and more.”

Non-traditional punctuation aside, it’s clear this isn’t your typical theatrical performance.

The Portland show is being presented by the Portland Theater Collaborative, which was formed to host this summer’s PortFringe 2012 theater festival (June 26-July 1).

The collaborative wanted to include the PuppeTyranny show in the festival, but couldn’t make the scheduling work. So they decided to bring them to town ahead of the festival instead.

“They have been producing in Philadelphia for a number of years, and it’s really exciting and really innovative work mixing puppets and live music,” said Mike Thomas, a member of the Portland Theater Collaborative. “It’s a less traditional form of theatrical performance. There’s similar stuff in the fringe festival.”

In addition to Palladino, the cast includes John Sinclair, Kennedy Cannadara, Jeremy Prouty and Dabey Byrd. They’ll be joined on stage by a number of puppets, who will fill out the cast. (For instance, the play will feature a dinner party, and seven of the guests will be puppets.)

During the show, animation projected onto the screen behind the stage “is used to motivate the craziness between the scenes,” according to Palladino.

The surreal show, which is filled with adult language and content, lasts about an hour and a half, and will include audience participation and a dog named Dewey.

But, as Palladino said, “it’s mostly us on stage pretending we’re British.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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