Carol Triffle, the co-founder of Imago Theatre, possesses the strangest sense of humor it has ever been my bemused pleasure to encounter. While Triffle and Imago are best known for the family-friendly masque spectacles she created with Jerry Mouawad, for the past five years she has been expressing her odd comedic outlook through a series of short, eccentric comedies. They all follow the same general outline: about an hour long, set in a single room with not very bright people wandering through, bumping into one another and giving air to their existential dissatisfaction in breathless, cartoony monotones. In each piece, Danielle Vermette plays a woman in an awkward predicament, whose troubles are exacerbated by friends, relatives or co-workers, one of whom is usually played by Kyle Delamarter. The characters periodically break to sing tuneless ruminations on their states of mind to cheerful music by Katie Griesar.
Splat, Triffle’s fifth installment in the series, involves a woman whose plans to move to France and “become a French person” are delayed by the dead body in her basement and the mysterious voices on her language tapes, which order her to take off her clothes (she does not do so). She hires a mob cleaner (Jerry Mouawad) through the Yellow Pages, but he does more talking than cleaning. Like clockwork, Delamarter and Horatio Alexander show up to make life even harder.
Like most of the rest of Triffle’s shorts, I find Splat fascinating and irritating in equal measure. I still don’t understand what, exactly, Triffle is getting at, but I still hope that one day I will. In the meantime, the plays are intermittently very funny, even if you aren’t quite sure what you’re laughing at, and present a least one moment apiece of real theatrical beauty. In Splat, that moment is a domestic tableau about halfway through the show: Vermette strokes a cat, Mouawad strokes a rotary saw blade, Delamarter stares into space, sobbing, and Alexander fiddles with a crossword puzzle, while a dead man with a tiny right hand cooks scrambled eggs behind them. As with the rest of Splat, I’ve no idea what it means, but it made me giggle just the same.
SEE IT: Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave., 231-3959. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays. Closes June 4. $8.