Washington's small theater: Molotov Theatre Group

Friday, April 16, 2010; WE28

The problems that plague three-year-old Molotov Theatre rarely, if ever, arise for most other companies. For instance: What scientific concoctions and sleights of hand will make death and dismemberment look realistic when the audience is sitting two feet away?

"If only I'd paid more attention in high school physics and chemistry," laments Alex Zavistovich, the troupe's co-founder and managing director.

Molotov's most recent production, "Mondo Andronicus," was a quick and dirty adaptation of Shakespeare's goriest play that included self-mutilation, stabbings and the startlingly realistic removal of a tongue.

But don't blame such movies as "Saw" for spawning the grisly theatrics that characterize a Molotov production; the group's foundation is deeply rooted in French history, inspired by the horrifying plays of the Theatre du Grand Guignol, founded in Paris in the 1890s.

Think of a Molotov performance as an alternative to an evening in front of "CSI," only with a splash zone.

"It's just fun, weird entertainment," says artistic director Lucas Maloney. "Just don't wear anything you wouldn't want to get splattered."

What to see next: "The Horrors of Online Dating." July 8-31 at the Playbill Cafe theater, 1409 14th St. NW. 202-265-3055. http://www.molotovtheatre.org. $15.

-- Stephanie Merry

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