IMPASSIONED EMBRACES: Comedy Cabaret by The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium


David Stanger, Colleen Hughes, and James Kiesel in “Splatter Flick,” from the IRC’s IMPASSIONED EMBRACES (Photo credit: Johanna Austin/AustinArt)

From award-winning playwright John Pielmeier, best known for his full-length religious drama AGNES OF GOD, comes a revue of eight short skits on a much lighter, and much loonier, note. Staged cabaret style by the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium—Philadelphia’s premier presenter of absurdist works—IMPASSIONED EMBRACES: PIECES OF LOVE AND THEATRE offers 75 minutes of madcap takes on romantic relationships and theatrical careers. It’s an amusing way to spend an autumn evening and to support, through a portion of ticket sales, both the Red Cross relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy and the IRC’s upcoming mainstage production of PARADISE PARK in February.

Company newcomers Colleen Hughes, James Kiesel, and Sarah Schol join the familiar ensemble of Tina Brock, John D’Alonzo, Lou Seitchik, and David Stanger (all four of whom appeared in this year’s IRC Fringe hit IVONA, PRINCESS OF BURGUNDIA) in the fast-paced high-decibel bedlam. The mostly manic musings contain an assortment of wacky monologues, daffy dialogues, bizarre situations, and outrageous physical comedy.

The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s IMPASSIONED EMBRACES features Tina Brock and Lou Seitchik in “An Intellectual Discussion” (Photo credit: Johanna

Directed by Brock, the lively cast had the audience laughing, groaning, and shaking their heads at the over-the-top antics and nonsensical conversations of Pielmeier’s kooky characters, as they desperately solicit funds for an original production (Brock in “The Backer’s Audition”), trace an acting career from newborn to has-been (Schol in “My Life in Art”), struggle to remember lines (Seitchik in “On Forgetting”), or participate in the broadcast of an international thespian competition (the entire ensemble in “The Acting Olympics”). They reverse gender roles to gain quickly forgotten insight into the dating scene (Hughes and Stanger in “Pick-Up Artist”), face off in an existentialist argument and food fight over who’s right (Brock and Seitchik in “An Intellectual Discussion: The Poor Man’s Samuel Beckett”), take in a “brilliant” 3-D slasher film (Hughes, Kiesel, Stanger, D’Alonzo, and Schol in “Splatter Flick”), and undergo an interrupted vasectomy (Stanger, Hughes, D’Alonzo, and Schol in “Vas Difference”), all with high-spirited ridiculousness and uninhibited physicality.

The cabaret production runs in the intimate 2nd-floor space of L’Etage (where the IRC presented its first show in 2006) on Wednesday and Sunday evenings through November 28 (excluding the 11th); doors open at 7:00 pm, with a 7:30 curtain time for all shows. Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets; log on to

By John Pielmeier
Directed by Tina Brock
November 4-28, 2012
The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium
L’Etage Cabaret
6th and Bainbridge Streets, 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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