Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plabnox Cures Opera House Presents Mademoiselle Circulation (“Miss Traffic”)

The newly erected Plabnox Cures Opera House opened its doors last night to the upper crust with a private showing of Dr. Prosperina Swinnard’s Mademoiselle Circulation, an opera in five acts (libretto by Dr. Peter Perofovich). The tragedy uses the lofty art of opera to convey the trials and tribulations of the lowest class of U.S. citizens—pedestrians—to the gentry. Opening on an emissions-filled stage beset with honking, exhaust-spewing vehicles, the opera immerses the audience at once in the smoky yellow ambiance of rush hour Philadelphia. By the time Mademoiselle appears amidst the automobiles, theatergoers can barely make out her figure through the smog clouds and gas excretions. In fact, the recreation of reality by PCOH is so lifelike that several asthmatic patrons lost consciousness due to carbon monoxide poisoning before Act Two had even begun.

Mademoiselle must navigate gridlocks, faded crosswalks, ambiguous traffic laws, and septic odors as she treks to work on foot. There is an early omen of danger when she encounters a driver who is simultaneously talking on her cell phone and smoking a cigarette—a veritable death knell in the pedestrian subculture. In a harrowing scene, a storm swirls up and an SUV tries to run a red light—just as Mademoiselle Circulation steps out onto the crosswalk. Mademoiselle stands her ground, prompting the SUV to serenade the audience with one of the most haunting bel canto arias of the opera. Mademoiselle challenges the SUV to a duel, and Act Five crescendos in a violent recitative passage of honking, trumpeting brakes, backfiring vehicles, and quivering string notes that leaves one of the characters impaled and the stage slick with pools of spilled gasoline. Plabnox Cures opera critic Penelope Ravioli theorizes that, “the daring Mademoiselle Circulation is, at heart, a scathing indictment of the American traffic system.”

*This opera is not recommended for individuals with respiratory problems.

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