The Day Everything Went Wrong
of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya channeled through Tom Waits. Tulip and musician Frank Pahl, a longtime collaborator, make you feel that you're in an eerie, deserted Weimar Republic music hall. Pahl inhabits his own substantial piece of the stage, in underwear and bathrobe, applying himself to instruments, mostly oblivious to the actors, occasionally part of the scenes. The set, by Vince Mountain, is an exploded Dickensian London with a few 1930s appliances dropped in. It will make you gasp.
Tulip came to Ann Arbor twenty-something years ago from England. He's schooled in Jacques Lecoq's much more physical school of acting based on mime and commedia dell'arte, rather than our American obsessively internal character-driven drama. Tulip is now a "clinical assistant professor" at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and career-arc-wise you could perhaps call him an elder statesman of local theater. But he hasn't mellowed: no Mamma Mia! or Love Letters for him. The Day Everything Went Wrong lifts its audience out of the stolid twenty-first-century United States and deposits them in the off-kilter world of early Brecht.