Richard Harrington plays Gustave, a simple Belgian village boy who hears a mysterious call from Don Henley, frontman for the world's best-selling rock band of all time, The Eagles (with whom Harrington & Kauffman have no affiliation, past or present). Gustaves narration is cleverly complemented by the subtle mime routines of his co-conspirator and occasional spoiler, Chris Kauffmans Nhar, who is unable to verbally convey his message but harbors eternal hopes of doing his own musical number. The story spans the globe and beyond, with tales of Colombia, Nepal, and the skies over Walden Pond.
Through it all, Nhar performs mime routines, sings songs, sets up the mike, runs the sound, fetches all the props, and does whatever else it takes to make things run smoothly while Gustave tells the audience the story of his life.
At the end of the show, when Gustave finally discovers his musical mentor's true intentions for him, the engagingly weird narrative emerges as a tale of welcome and redemption.
Motel California, directed by Patricia Buckley of the Montreal and Toronto Fringe hit clown group Gams on the Lam, debuted at Surf Reality in New York City and has performed at the Westbeth Theatre Center, the New York International Fringe Festival, and many other New York venues. It has toured to Theatreproject in Baltimore, to the Buntport Theater in Denver, Colorado and to the Revolutions Festival at the Tricklock Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as to Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Internationally, the show has toured the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit (Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George, Victoria, Vancouver) as well as performing at the Mezi Ploty ("Between the Lines") theater and music festival, a major cultural event in the Czech Republic held on the grounds of the Bohnice Psychiatric Institute outside Prague, at which thousands of festival guests mix with the patients for a weekend of theater and loud music. Harrington & Kauffman's participation in the event was made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Information Service.
In the spring of 2001, the show performed at HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival, shortly after which it changed its name from Hotel California to The Show Formerly Known As, and then later on that year to Motel California, which it remains to this day.
Nharcolepsy once again stars Harrington's & Kauffman's alter-egos, Gustave and Nhar.
Nharcolepsy begins with Gustave and Nhar informing the audience that they themselves are not in a theater, but are, in fact, stuck in a blizzard twelve miles from the North Pole. Thus, as they succumb to hypothermia, the audience must be a figment of their imagination. The duo then begin the last show of their careers, performing numbers that tell the story of how Gustave's childhood obsession with finding the Yeti (the Himalayan ape-like creature who has eluded western explorers and biologists for decades) led to their current predicament.
In order to keep them alive until the end of the show, each audience member is issued a white practice golf ball to throw at the characters whenever they succumb to hypothermia and fall asleep. The balls look dangerous, but they don't hurt, very much.
Nharcolepsy has toured to the Toronto, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Victoria, San Francisco and New York Fringe Festivals, as well as the Buntport Theater in Denver, Colorado, to the Revolutions Festival at the Tricklock Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and to Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In New York, it has performed independent runs at the Red Room and at the Gene Frankel Theatre.
A man is found inside a block of ice at the North Pole by Norwegian archeologists. They defrost him. He has no memory of his past. He has a birthmark on his belly in the shape of a frog, a matchbook in his pocket, and a microphone in his hand. And he has a Belgian accent. He doesn't know his name, but there is one thing he is sure of: that he is a singer of the cabaret.
Soon, the man learns that his name is Gustave, and he re-imagines for himself a travelling companion: his mostly mute friend and associate Nhar, whom he lost on the ice. With the help of Nhar, Gustave tracks down his family and his past, first in Belgium, then in Colombia, and then finally in the redwood forests of Northern California. The more places he visits, the more he begins to realize the awful truth about his own shadowy misdeeds.
The tale of this quest and its dramatic conclusion is told in narrative, musical numbers and re-enactment by Gustave and Nhar, who complements Gustave's deadpan storytelling with his subtle mime routines and musical accompaniment.
It's Jason Bourne meets Samuel Beckett meets Serge Gainsbourg, except Gustave and Nhar take themselves far more seriously than any of those guys, which is the key to Harrington & Kauffman's comedy.
Cabaret Terrarium has performed at the Edmonton and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals in Canada, and at the Antidepressant Festival, the International Clown Theater Festival, and Triskelion Arts, all in New York City. In the spring of 2010, Cabaret Terrarium had a two-city run in in the Southwest in April, at the Box Performance Space in Albuquerque and at Buntport Theater in Denver. To see what the press has been saying about the show, see our review page.
Next up: Gettysburg College in January! For details, see our calendar page.
To learn more about Harrington & Kauffman, see the Company page.