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Larry Littany Litt


In Crocodile’s Lair

May 2 to 19, 2024
Presented by Theater for the New City
Produced by Tortas y Tacones
Written and Directed by JC Augustin
Costumes by Clara Chon
Original music by Division, a jam band from Staten Island
Scenic design by Jason Sturm
At Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. NYC
 Reviewed May 18, 2024 by Larry Littany Litt

First thing we assume is that New York City’s wild animals are doing their best to keep out of sight of the so called pest control officers. Then we suddenly realize that wherever these urban critters are hiding, indeed mostly underground in well disguised burrows, they are also organizing to survive. Food and shelter for all. But at a high price. Animals must destroy their enemies.
The leadership of competing animal gangs, call them packs or herds if you like, all have the same enemy. You know them. What to do about the demonic humans who are established in the vicious but food laden surface world?
This question is JC Augustin’s raison d’etre for creating the wildly comic Aristophanic comedy "In Crocodile’s Lair." What kind of unhappy world is without animals? Huge numbers are eaten everyday. Most of them can’t hide. They don’t have an organization or a boss looking out for them. A boss like  Crocodile Gramps, a poetic gangster gruffly yet charmingly played by T. Scott Lilly, a wise old ancient croc who’s actions, through his agents in the above ground world, are murderous but necessary. Gramps hires, fires and rehires Coyote, a vicious non-dog of a dog to do much of his dirty work. Jay W. Walker gives us a sexually and violently conflicted Coyote who swears he’s a killing dominant male lone wolf but also a sensitive creature with a mind of his own. He is both subservient to Gramps and a rogue. Conflict abounds.
But it is Jose Ruiz’ Skunk character who elevates the show to heights of surreal chaos and raucous laughter. He’s both an insanely horny mad skunk and an incredibly trained opera singer. He’s after anything in pants and wants to serenade them into smelly sex as well. His patter is brilliant, queer yet somehow reminded me of the absurd conversations I have in everyday company. He’s the world gone mad with a grounding in high art. He’s on his way to crude pleasures and cultural respect at the same time.
JC Augustin’s Rat King is a conniving little bully who gets what he deserves in the most beastly way. I loved watching him try to out think Guru Gramps.
I must compliment Clara Chon for her imaginative animal costumes. Not overly animal-like but enough so that we are always aware of the character’s identity. Gramps is a crocodile with a scaly chest and a beautiful tail. Rat KIng, played by this show’s playright-actor, is so rat-like I almost jumped out of his way. Coyote’s fur is just mangy enough to make me think I could smell an old dog.
This show is over-the-top staged fun in that subaltern way that makes me think that queer theater is high comedy. If it comes around again, don’t miss it.


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