New York

Jill Kroesen

The Kitchen

Jill Kroesen’s 10-act, 21/2-hour presentation of all of Western history from Evolution to The End had minor difficulties. Twenty performers, props such as oatmeal and potatoes, missiles and limp swords, 10 countries, a bardo (the Tibetan afterworld), three social classes, memorized lines and throwaway lines, some songs, a reigning god called Mother and played by Michael Cooper, and her son, named Stanley Oil and played by Kroesen, are some of the components juggled in Stanley Oil and His Mother: A Systems Portrait of the Western World. The Western world, it turns out, is something like a Montessori classroom run by sincerely confused teachers.

Mother cannot stir from her chair on the podium and must carry out her orders through Stanley, a demiurge at best. Stanley climbs down from Mother’s knee to experiment with various countries scattered in little groups around the performance area, but

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