The UNDER St. Marks theater is only a little bit off the beaten track, but it's been home to many an off-the-wall production. For three nights only (closing Saturday Jan. 10), it's hosting another. Catch Die Roten Punkte: Super Musikant tonight – it's your last chance for a while unless you live in Canada – and well worth your $18.
This jolly evening of clever musical buffoonery comes courtesy of "Otto and Astrid Rot," a "brother and sister" from a fantastical land called "Germany." With a backstory suggesting a Teutonic version of the White Stripes, Die Roten Punkte ("The Red Dots") mug and squirm through a set of smart and catchy takeoffs on what they insistently call "rock and roll." Really, though, the music – played on child-size guitars (Otto) and drums (Astrid) – ranges from New Wave and Kraftwerk-era robot music to glam-punk and a drinking song, and more. Meanwhile the siblings' tension-filled banter pokes fun at recovery-movement psychology – an easy target, but a big fat funny one as well.
Perhaps the cleverest song is the duo's lengthy origin story. It's a Nick Cave-style dark fairy tale in which the kids' parents are killed in a tragico-absurd manner. Orphaned, the pair dream of being in the "best band in the world." Now, in their own demented universe, they are. The most impressive number, though, is the Kraftwerk sendup about a "robot with feelings," complete with hilarious 80s music video choreography.
The songs themselves are darn good, and the show is equal parts smart and smartass. At the performance I attended, the duo, being total pros, dealt firmly and funnily, but not meanly, with a smart-alecky kid in the audience who was intent on spoiling one of the main jokes. Also, just as the show was getting started, a woman in the audience shouted a hello to "Astrid" using the actress's real name. Man, people are stupid.
Go, be stupid with the Best Band in the World. The final show in New York (just for now, I hope) is Jan. 10; visit their website for information on where they're appearing next.