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Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis

Pick: Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis

Details:  August 3-6, 8 p.m., Tickets: $10 - $15, Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square

Viewpoint:  Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s oft-quoted adage, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” indicates that the late lamented master of gonzo journalism and Jame’s Cartee’s guerilla theater troupe Citizens of the Universe are a match made in some tequila-swilling, gun-toting, mescaline-ingesting heaven. Thompson began his career as a fairly straighforward – if anti-authoritarian - newspaper scribe when he went on the road with the Hells Angels to pen an in-depth examination of the outlaw motorcycle gang. (Thompson arguably spearheaded the “new” journalism school often credited to Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.) Thompson’s examinations – and eviscerations – of the Kentucky Derby, the 1972 Democratic Presidential Campaign and a District Attorney’s conference on drug enforcement in Las Vegas made him a counter culture hero. Cartee’s ragged-but-right troup has specialized in off-center, often confrontational “found space” productions including a staging of Fight Club in a parking lot, Equus in a horse stable and a sleazy scatalogical Trainspotting at The Milestone. Like Thompson, Cartee has a healthy disrespect for society’s boundaries and niceties. He has also occasionally shared Doctor Gonzo’s casual connection with the truth. (Did Thompson and his “300 pound Samoan attorney,” AKA Latino activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, really ingest the staggering amount of illegal drugs he boasts about in his magnum opus Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?) Similarly, in 2013 Cartee spun a yarn to a local journalist about a dying benefactor saving the soul of Plaza Midwood with a free-wheeling arts collective – a tale best described as a bit of fabulism. Gonzo has been staged before by COTU, and reportedly it captures Thompson’s scalpel-sharp satirical humor and reckless disregard for convention to a T. It remains to be seen if it cuts to the heart of Thompson’s sense of moral outrage which fueled his take-downs of the powerful and pontificating. Catch Gonzo and other bits of Cartee-curated madness while you can. The 2016 season will be COTU’s last. At the end of the year Cartee is pulling up stakes and heading – true to form - to parts unknown.—Nicole Fisher

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