In addition to bringing us a great deal of prominent mediocrity, the ‘05-’06 season gave us this monstrosity, which has my vote for the worst musical-theater score of the decade, or at least the worst to actually get a recording.
This is another composition in Lachiusa’s deliberately alienating style, but unlike the others, it combines the intentional harshness and abrasive qualities of Lachiusa’s work with a massive amount of unintentional incompetence.
The show itself is a shallow, sex-obsessed reduction of a classic play, taking a work with serious themes about class and gender and freedom, and making it purely about a group of teenage girls in heat (seriously…they spend the show running their hands over their bodies and saying things like “My pains, mother, are not the pains of hunger”).
The star is Cosby Show veteran Felicia Rashaad, here absurdly cast as the play’s title character. Bernarda is supposed to be a domineering, castrating matriarch, but Rashaad and an unwise attempt by the authors to soften her have dissolved all the terrifying power she had in the play.
And the score, easily the most unlistenable of the decade, shows what happens when Lachiusa writes genuine floppo numbers (like “The Stallion and the Mare”, about horses having sex) in his trademark, flip-off-the-listener style, combining its skull-pounding beats and wailing vocal parts with some of the most idiotic lyrics of the decade (Example: “I want to feel a fire between my legs/and on my lips/and on my tongue”).
This show has no discernable redeeming features, and it actually serves as a reminder of how legitimately well-written Lachiusa’s other shows really are, even in spite of their aggressively avant-garde styles of music and performance.