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Mac Wellman’s ‘1965UU’ paints a wonderfully weird world

Mac Wellman's "1965UU", directed by Stephen Mellor, is a surreal lullaby, adapted from his book "A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds." This installment chronicles the scant lives on 1965UU, an asteroid with no apparent purpose, much like Earth. The play is running until Oct. 4 at the Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City.

Having won several Obie awards, including the lifetime achievement Obie in 2003, Wellman isn't short on recognition. His plays, however, have often been described as "experimental," which, in a way, undercuts the value of his work, which places language-play above plot, character or other traditional theatrical elements.

A long platform painted with a metallic-looking sheen, a lone light bulb, a chair and projected narration on the back wall set the austere, alien scene. The world is introduced to the audience by a peculiar and verbose goggle-wearing guy named Ravenlo.

Played by Paul Lazar, who has performed in other Wellman plays to critical acclaim and is most noted for his dance/theater company, Big Dance Theater, Ravenlo talks with a poetic cadence and an earnest intonation reminiscent of a milder Jerry Lewis. Lazar's performance is astounding in that despite the spare stage furnishings, he manages to create a dream-like atmosphere and make the vacancy and aimlessness of the world palpable.

Throughout this hour-long play, Ravenlo muses on the experience of existing and all that entails on 1965UU, including his unrequited love for the mute Rosalind, performed by dancer Kate Marks, who quickly shuffles across the surface of the planet, too caught up in her trajectory to pay much attention to him.

As weird as Ravenlo is, he soon becomes the anchoring voice of reason in juxtaposition with the other characters — his dim-witted friend Albedo, played by Ed Jewett, who has a farting problem, for example, or Umberto the neat freak, performed by Daniel Manley, who takes a sander to the stage at one point, sending sparks into a delighted audience.

Traditionalists and action-seekers might not enjoy what is essentially a play-poem, but those familiar with Wellman's work won't be disappointed by the clever and by turns hilarious, lulling interplanetary ruminations in "1965UU."

If You Go:

1965UU — A play by Mac Wellman. Directed by Stephen Mellor. Starring Paul Lazar.

Where: The Chocolate Factory Theater, 5-49 49th Ave, Long Island City

When: Through Oct. 4

Tickets: $15, call 718-482-7069

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