photo via Deanna Fleysher
As soon as I entered the Fringe’s Blue venue to find the audience’s chairs had been rearranged haphazardly across the stage, I knew I was in for something completely different, and “Butt Kapiniski
” doesn't disappoint in that department. Sit wherever you like, but beware: No viewer is safe from Californian comic Deanna Fleysher’s outrageous audience participation.
As the titular archetypal film noir gumshoe, Fleysher dresses like John Constantine, talks like Elmer Fudd, and wears a gooseneck lamp on a backpack to serve as a personal spotlight. After an extended scene-setting squabble over his theme song, Kapinski stumbles into a grisly murder, which he proceeds to solve with investigation, intimidation and not-so-subtle innuendo. At each step, Kapinski recruits members of the audience to serve as cops, corpses and even decomposing organs, eventually ensnaring nearly every patron; I was roped into playing his “whore with a heart of gold” girlfriend, which involved the closest thing I’ve had to a lap dance since I got married.
"Butt Kapinski" is a chaotic, bewildering experience that is often extremely odd but never boring. At first it appears embarrassingly amateurish, with microphone mess-ups and soundtrack snafus. That part is all an act, but the awkwardness of Fleysher’s free-jazz dancing is absolutely genuine, as was the grossed-out glee with which most audience members joined in on the mass masturbation moment (you really had to be there). "Kapinski" is even more politically incorrect than the 1940s flicks it’s making fun of, with gags about wife-beating, opium-slinging Asians and evil Jew landlords; I couldn’t stop giggling, but this is not a show for the thin-skinned.
Beyond the boundary-pushing blue humor, there are sprinklings of sharp wit, such as a spot-on summary of film noir’s rules and an absurd scene of Afghani water torture (no water necessary). It also makes a couple of unexpected detours into serious territory, with a scene-breaking lecture on the post-war American hero and a denouement that devolves into a topless book club. Kapinski admits near the end that this tale lacks the red herrings and careful plotting of a classic noir mystery, and there’s really no semblance of sense to the suspects or solution. But CSI
this is not; getting to play make-believe for an hour like foul-mouthed fourth-graders is the real point. If that sounds like your kind of private dick playground, join on in.
Kapinski Enterprises - Los Angeles, CA
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 18 and up