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Friday, October 21, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Theater Review

1 woman channels 7 puppets behaving rather atrociously

Special to The Seattle Times

Now playing

"The Compendium of Nastiness" by Ki Gottberg, Friday-Saturday through Nov. 26 at The Womb (private home, call for the address); $15 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).

How many people are inside of you? If you are actor Elizabeth Kenny the answer is at least seven, enough to cast your own psychosexual gothic melodrama.

Kenny, who was so quietly electrifying in New City Theater's production of Neil La Bute's "Bash" a while back, is a fearless, generous performer.

You sort of have to be if the audience is seated in the basement of the house of the writer-director (Ki Gottberg), sitting maybe 3 feet away from you.

That's The Womb, ladies and gentlemen, a private residence in the Madrona neighborhood, with an audience limit of 15 (plus an occasional critic).

Most of the action in "The Compendium of Nastiness" takes place in a single overstuffed chair with puppets. The puppets have about as much expression as stop signs.

Gottberg is not only the author and director, but also the lighting designer and sound-effect wizard of this bizarrely funny and very tight show, which is definitely for mature audiences. What is it about? Greed, incest, mercy, no mercy, nasty puppets getting what they deserve, and good puppets hoping for a better life.

Kenny speaks and moves for them in a kind of reverse transference: she does everything (and boy does she!) and the puppets act like dummies.

Occasionally, Kenny goes behind three upstage crushed velvet curtains, most often when she summons the voracious she-demon "Gertzburg" (no program so the spelling is mine, forgive me oh great one!) who bears an uncanny vocal likeness to a very sultry Mae West.

Warning: Do not let this creature get you anywhere alone — because, male or female, you are definitely over-matched and will be destroyed if she deems that your destiny.

Not to be missed is the final exit where the audience is shown the door.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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