We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
As its latest offering, Fraudulent Productions is currently presenting Ganter Grass’ playlet Rocking Back and Forth. Before coming to prominence as a novelist with The Tin Drum in 1959, Ganter Grass—who grew up in Poland, a Hilter Youth against his will—wrote several plays. Like his other early artistic efforts, they are twisted things, absurd and disturbed. In Rocking, Conelli, a clown glued to a child’s wooden horse, is set upon by a trio of polka-dotted entertainers who want to separate the pair. Hanging on this thin skeleton of a plot are Grass’ dense musings—about the ultimate worth of stage art, the exploitation of artists, the isolation of disenfranchised individuals. The script is tough, but directors Dania A. Palanker and John Spitzer have—from the opening moment, when Conelli force-feeds his horse a box of Froot Loops—staged it nimbly and even funnily. The acting is uneven, but Hugh Walthall (as Conelli), and Rachel Reed and Gregory-Brian (as Conelli’s equestrian daughter and her film-splicing boyfriend) are excellent. Early on, one of the entertainers calls Conelli “Creation’s Exception,” a figure at once tragic and comic. FraudProd, surrounded by polite, conventional theater, is also an anomaly: subversive, intelligent, and daring. Rocking Back and Forth isn’t another home run for the experimental troupe, but it does make it look like the rest of Washington’s “edgy” theaters aren’t even swinging. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. $10-12. (202) 462-7833. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)