Review: ‘Idigaragua’

Every devoted theatergoer lives for the thrill of the left-field discovery, the unheralded show that excites with unexpected daring and ambition: "Idigaragua" represents just such a project.

Every devoted theatergoer lives for the thrill of the left-field discovery, the unheralded show that excites with unexpected daring and ambition: “Idigaragua” represents just such a project. A one-hour musical performed with crackling precision and dark, evocative imagery, it updates the rock opera with sufficient energy and imagination to match productions with far greater resources.

“Idigaragua” was first hatched as a 2007 concept recording by Fort Wilson Riot, a genre-straddling four-piece band that subsequently collaborated with director Jeremey Catterton to create this production. The action revolves around an American journalist (Garrett Fitzgerald), who begins his picaresque odyssey sipping bemusedly from a metallic flask on an idealized Third World shore, a moment of calm before decidedly unsettled action.

The ensemble players act out the events of the subsequent song set, miming the haunting vocals of Fort Wilson Riot singers, who perform upstage.

Band member Amy Hager plays multiple instruments as well as providing voice, often in harmony with guitarist and second singer Jacob Mullis and bassist Joe Goggins. Mullis wears a white suit to match Fitzgerald, and the pair creates a weird, eerie synchrony while the story unfolds.

The music is difficult to categorize, blending the trappings of indie rock with the storytelling of musical theater.

Similarly, the plot escapes simple summary. Fitzgerald is accosted by pirates, forced to walk the plank, and subsequently rescued. He then hides amid the carnage of a bloody battle, raises and loses a family, and forges a society of skyscrapers and scientific achievement before his dream sinks amid industrial rot.

It’s a heady hour, to say the least. The multi-media chaos of puppets and video accompanying the music eventually settles in to depict the journalist’s end, with a final refutation of the notion of imposing order on reality. Which is ironic, given this show’s flirtation with disorder and its knack of pulling tight storytelling and vivid imagery from a stew that could easily descend into incoherence.

By the time the lights go down on this restless endeavor, there’s a sense that the often-shotgun marriage between rock music and the theatrical stage has seen an interlude of connubial bliss. Whatever the future holds for this “Idigaragua” (there is talk of a restaging, finances allowing), it endures as an effort of distinct originality — an uncompromising dream from which it’s a disappointment to awaken.


Bedlam Theater, Minneapolis, Minn.; 109 seats, $15 top


A Lamb Lays With Lion presentation of a musical in one act, with music and lyrics by Fort Wilson Riot. Directed by Jeremey Catterton. Choreography, Katie Rose McLaughlin, Catterton.


Set, Eva Signy Berger; lighting, Cameron Brainard; sound, Jacob Grun; production stage manager, Alexis Cuttance. Opened April 3, 2008. Reviewed April 5. Running time: 1 HOUR.


Band: Joe Goggins, Amy Hager, Jacob Mullis, Ben Smith.
With: Jayne Deis, Julie Fairbanks, Jake Lindgren, Katie Rose McLaughlin, Melissa Anne Murphy, Dan O'Neil, Ashley Smith, Carl Atiya Swanson.
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