A concentrated, breathless assault of weirdness, I Heart Catherine Pistachio feels like your childhood nightmares and teenage fantasies and grown-up fears got together for an ecstasy-fueled rave, invited the Sesame Street gang and Saved by the Bell’s Mario Lopez, and found a DJ to play a peerless soundtrack of Ace of Base, Mariah Carey and Dolly Parton. It’s a true theatrical unicorn: unimaginable until you’ve seen it, and unforgettable once you have.
Performers Nick Blakeley and Carl Harrison—identically dressed in long blond wigs, granny glasses, gray turtlenecks, high-waisted skirts and pink ballet slippers—introduce us to the character of Catherine Pistachio. Raised by swingers, Catherine finds solace in her pony and her border collie. That border collie finds his own kind of succor in sandwich cream, squirted up Catherine’s you-know-where. And that’s the least of the imagery. Lee Mattinson’s script is absurd, surreal and often gross—dwarves shoot from cannons, a tail slides into an anus like a Glade plug-in. Yet it transcends word salad, and there are some wonderfully silly lines (“What that woman does with cress is no one’s business”).
I Heart Catherine Pistachio gets dark. Like, real dark, and real fast. In short order, the show—briskly directed by Jen Malarkey—touches on child abuse, incest, bestiality, animal cruelty and suicide. This all comes hurtling at you with a velocity that demands your attention, even as it prompts a steady stream of WTFs.
With their wide grins and earnest expressions, Blakeley and Harrison are unflaggingly guileless, like hyperactive children’s TV stars detailing their most demented fantasies. They give a highly physical performance, too—their dancing is lurching but strangely beautiful. It’s something like spying into the bedroom of an awkward, highly emotional teenage girl—maybe the kind of girl who will become very beautiful but doesn’t know it yet.
So what’s it all mean? Why is there an acid attack at a nightclub? What are Bert and Ernie doing here? And did that poor pony really have to be strung up like a piñata? You won’t leave with answers. But you won’t be able to look away. Unicorns, after all, are very rare creatures.