Truck Stop; both are HIV-positive. Therndrag queen Lester (Tyrone Chlones)rncamps up catastrophe in his seduction ofrnWilbie (the misty-voiced WambertrnWeems), an earnest young narratologistrnwho ends up end-up. “Yes, Yes,” Lesterrnsings, “I’m a hell of a mess / Under thisrndress.” Igor (the gassy-voiced DamianrnHearse), a decomposition artist workingrnin cow cadavers who bears witness to therngroup’s struggles, asks, “What makes a societyrntick /When it lets you get frightfullyrnsick / Just because you dipped yourrnwick?”rnDeath, homelessness, and the loomingrnhell of steady employment providernthe climate in which this musical lives.rnThe aroma of ” . . . R e n t . . . ” may not bernsweet, but neither is it sour. Its combinationrnof gravity and grace is best expressedrnin the opening of Act II, when 40 latexcladrnactors with bullhorns come to thernfoot of the stage and exuberantly performrn”Bon Voyage.” The song is a paean tornthe triumph of eros over a dull straightrnworld. It is also a kind of epitaph:rnTo pederastyrnthe kid’s a blast; hernlooks so cute in his birthday suitrnI could swoon, I could fliprnWhat a trip!rnTo my lover and me,rn(the strap makes three)rnas we merge with the scourgernand I hear his flesh rip.rnWhat a trip!rnTo the chain and the whip.rnI writhe in their griprnAs I beg and blubberrnWith trembling liprnWhat a trip!rnTo sexual diversitiesrnAnd multiple perversitiesrnTo stylish catastrophesrnAnd trendy calamitiesrnTo all the frm when the lesions runrnAnd the pus goes drip, drip, driprnGod what a trip!rnThe glittering, inventive score andrncrisp, juicy lyrics of AHRCO’s 8B songsrnare fortified and augmented by the musical’srnsix hours of dialogue and four ofrnmonologue (it has 21 acts, two lunchrnbreaks, two dinner breaks, and six intermissionsrnspaced over two days). This fusionrnof bulk and density, unheard of andrnunimagined in the whole historv ofrnAmerican musical theater, allows the authorrnto address every single loathsomernhorror incipient, inherent, and prevalentrnin American societv in recent decades,rnand to school the audience in appropriaternresponses to each one. Hate radio,rnsuffocating sexual puritanism, ubiquitousrnright-wing militias, private property,rnviolence against women, tobacco, bloodyrnhomophobic pogroms, deregulation, thernNational Rifle Association, tax-cutting agitation.rnSen. Jesse Helms, parental consentrn—all of it—are subjected to the fullrnrange of relevant critical theorv. Andrnracism, too, of course.rnNor are the traditional favorites neglected:rn”J. Edgar Hoover in Hell” is onernof the most powerful songs in the wholern”Rentian” melange; Richard Nixon’s careerrnis covered in 80 verses. In Act 13, therndreams and hungers of decades are gatheredrninto a single lyrical and impassionedrnhymn of hope: “Your Time Will ComernYou Right-Wing Scum.”rnThe thoroughness of this deploymentrnand exposition of acceptable sentimentsrnis only the most conspicuous of the manyrnexciting innovations in the Raspberrianrnrepertoire. The director’s inclusivitychoreographyrnsets new standards for thernAmerican theater. Not only are the play’srncharacters 100 percent HIVite; so is thernentire cast! The 1990 census is exactly reflectedrnin an array of talent which is 12.1rnpercent Afro-American, 9 percent Hispanic-rnAmerican, 0.3 percent Japanese-rnAmerican, .00025 percent Samoan, andrnso forth. (The fractional percentages arernobtained by skillful multiple rotation ofrnthe understudies.) Most exciting of all,rnthe composition is exactly 3.9 percentrnOther-American—the first time thisrnvoiceless and neglected minority has receivedrnthe affirmative action so long deniedrnit. Moreover, the set designs are differentlyrnabled-accessible.rnProfessor Jonathan Raspberry puts hisrnown single-minded pursuit of his craft,rnhis drive to redeem his Hme on earth, intornSlocum’s climactic “Toupee or NotrnToupee,” an apotheosis that broughtrntears to even- unshut eye in the Lulu KaposirnThanatopoulos Theatre.rnOne toupeernGloryrnOne perfect toupeernBefore I cease to bernGloryrnOne green and purple toupeernShimmering like a sunsetrnA bright, eternal flamernOn my lover’s naked nog-nog.rnAngel’s Hair for Rent in Calcutta, OHrnclosed at the Galaxy following its first intermissionrnwhen it was noticed that thernaudience had failed to return to its seats.rnThe Bismarck & Burleigh Grangers’ Clarionrnreviewer completely failed to grasprnthat he had been witness to the effort of arnsophisticated culture trying to create arnmore inclusive art. His review was thernshortest in the Clarion’s history: “To dismissrnAHRCO as a cacophonous pandemoniumrnof polymorphous perversityrnwould be easy. Vide supra: quod erat faciendum.”rnOn July 25, Raspberry informed hisrncolleagues of his unshakable determinationrnto leave North Dakotan theater inrnthe slough of stagnation and vapid spectaclesrnit so richly deserves. If adequate financingrncan be obtained, he hopes to reopenrnhis musical near-near-off-offrnBroadway sometime in October.rnJohn N. Frar)’ is a professor of history atrnMiddlesex County College in Edison,rnNew jersey.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnCALLING BILL DONOHUErn”In today’s Britain, with its post-religious non-culture of sport and superstores, itrnis not surprising people are attracted by Catholicism. It emphasises age againstrnthe cult of youth, authority against anarchy. And confession to a priest is cheaperrnthan psychoanalysis.rn”Yet I cannot but regret this fading of the Reformation’s legacy. Catholicismrnis demonstrably not good for developing countries . . . Is it really sensible that arnsenescent Polish bachelor should have the last word on the reproductive rate ofrnhundreds of millions of women?rn”The link between Protestantism and progress . . . may not be as clear-cut asrnMax Weber thought . . . But the link between Catholicism and stagnation doesrnseem suspiciously close.”rn—from Niall Ferguson, “A Catholic Britain would be no cause for reioicing,”rnDaiiyTelegraph (/u/y], 1999)rn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn