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'Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)' review: Haunting

Alenka Kraigher and Nicolas Nore�a in

Alenka Kraigher and Nicolas Nore�a in "Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)," written, directed, and designed by Richard Foreman, running at The Public Theater at Astor Place April 30 through June 2. Credit: Joan Marcus

There is always something strangely comforting about the disturbing strangeness of Richard Foreman's hallucinatory collages. That is, despite the unsettling dreamlike incoherence of "Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)," the piece is a comforting reminder that some artists are still doggedly making theater that refuses to spill its guts in neat narratives and pat character developments.

This is the avant-garde pioneer's first stage work since threatening to abandon theater for film in 2009. We are in some European memory of a bordello/cafe with an aging fellow named Samuel (the ever-original Rocco Sisto). The 65-minute mystery has Foreman's trademark buzzers, offstage commands and wires that divide the space and keep us from easy identification with the action.

The action, such as it is, involves Samuel's confusion about memories of a pair of flapper prostitutes. A stranger dressed as the Michelin Man keeps interrupting. This is Foreman's 11th piece for the Public Theater in 45 years. As always, he writes, directs and designs his haunting, exasperating visions. He has mellowed not.

WHAT "Old-Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance)"

WHERE Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.

INFO $45-$65; 212-967- 7555;

BOTTOM LINE Vintage Richard Foreman, haunting and exasperating

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