Juan Ramos Toro, Fidel Fernandez, and
Joseph Michael O'Curneen in 666
(© Carol Rosegg)
Juan Ramos Toro, Fidel Fernandez, and
Joseph Michael O'Curneen in 666
(© Carol Rosegg)
There's no limit to the puerile and sophomoric depths to which the performers in the Spanish import 666, now playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre, are willing to sink as they strive to create hilarity. They rarely succeed, though; there are perhaps 10 truly amusing minutes in this seemingly interminable 70-minute show by the group Yllana.

666 is set within the confines of a maximum security prison where four guys (Juan Ramos Toro, Raul Cano, Fidel Fernandez and Joseph Michael O'Curneen) seem to be awaiting execution. And while the mostly non-verbal proceedings, directed by David Ottone, cause theatergoers to cringe in their seats, the action is filled with an indefatigable energy and commitment that warrants a certain level of appreciation.

One sequence, entitled appropriately enough "Pissed off," finds two of the men smearing the "urine" from their bed pans over one another. In "Sweet Dreams," a prisoner is calmed by his fellow inmates after experiencing some nightmares (lit with effective eeriness by Herrick Goldman). This man's troubled sleep, though, is only replaced with something worse -- a cellblock rape that creepily (and offensively) is played as if such an event is the funniest thing on earth.

The four performers -- impressively free of inhibition -- extend the humor to used condom sight-gags, complete with viscous white fluid that seeps from the latex to the stage floor and to a gorefest that finds one of the prisoners clumsily shaving a vain cop with an end result that would make Sweeney Todd proud.

In one of the funnier sequences, a couple of the guys seem to elude their deaths on the gallows, a section that is made all the more intriguing by the visual of the guys seemingly floating in mid-air. But well before the men have donned the giant satyr-like phalluses that are part of the show's excruciatingly over-extended finale, some theatergoers might find themselves wondering whether losing one's head might be preferable to the truly deadly experience of watching this witless show.