If some of what you are about to read sounds completely bonkers then you are well on the way to an appreciation of You Are Frogs. Welcome to the world ‘isms and ‘ists that go some way to unraveling this bizarre work, but if they succeeded it would be self-defeating.
A thoroughly enjoyable, delightfully entertaining, and endearing comedic enterprise
The play is written, directed and designed by Bora Kyung Min Lee and Colin Yeo. One of their simpler descriptions of this creation refers to it as ‘an existential dark comedy’. Well, we’ve all been there before. Next we are told that it is ‘an absurdist play for frogs, humans, and puppets alike’. Stay with me, they are serious. Finally they reveal the methodology and content: ‘anthropomorphised frogs and puppetry highlight the surreal domestic story about sex, sickness, and survival’. In case you are wondering where anything so bizarre might have come from, it actually has precedent and is not as original as it mind sound. The piece is inspired by the Cuban-American avant garde playwright and director, María Irene Fornés’ 1983 play Mud. Now it has pedigree, but that doesn’t stop it from being barking mad.
Here’s the evidence. Gender-fluid Mabel (Nic Prior) the frog is poor, barely literate, discontent and devoted to ironing and peeling garlic. Garry, (Xcaret Soto) the frog, variously incarnates as their lover, sibling and child and clings to the established life of routines, codependency and mild contentment. All might have continued swimmingly, so to speak, were it not for the arrival of Bill (David Blindauer), a metal puppet who is sentient and in love with Mabel. With the three locked together in one place the dynamics fluctuate between them in increasingly dystopian scenes. As the creators put it, ‘they are bound together by their struggle for fulfillment. Purgatory is the room they share. Self improvement is the salvation they will never reach’.
And there you have it, rather like Beatrix Potter meets Tales of the Riverbank on acid, with the masks compounding it all. Notwithstanding the nonsense, or perhaps because if it, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, delightfully entertaining, and endearing comedic enterprise. It’s clever, well-executed, and has rock-solid performances all round.
I loved it, and to celebrate I shall have frogs legs for dinner!