After a series of plays in which live actors interacted with film or video, playwright-director John Jesurun has returned to the mode he developed in the long-running punk-club serial Chang in a Void Moon: a single, propless but dramatically lit theater in which a virtuosic company of actors race pell-mell through dense dialogues replete with deadpan humor, repetition, and references to rock lyrics and other pop-culture detritus. In Jesurun's new play, the directors of a scientific institute attempt to perform exploratory surgery on a sunspot that has landed in the ocean as a tiny pinpoint of magnesium. The spot mysteriously comes to life, though, and inhabits first a mouse, then a table, and then one after another of the increasingly hysterical characters, who also include a visiting Czech doctor, her American interpreter, a pilot, and a strange concierge named Loretta (as in "Get back, Loretta"). As usual, Jesurun uses a pulp-genre framework (here: the sci-fi horror movie) and a scrambled narrative to mask some philosophical speculation: clearly, whether it's a germ or a ghost or the devil incarnate, the sunspot stands for Evil. (Jesurun recently directed three of his works in Germany, which may explain the language-lab jokes and the origin-of-Nazism theme.) Even at his most cryptic, Jesurun makes energetic theater. The attempts to exorcise the sunspot -- by pounding a white table with baseball bats or dousing a frenzied dancer with water -- are as startling and hilarious as the early plays of Sam Shepard.

7 Days, March 29, 1989