With ferocious satire, time-bending surrealism and songs fiercely throbbing to the wild heart of early rock 'n' roll, Dan Dietz’s darkly brilliant "American Misfit" defies easy labels — as befits a full-volume celebration of the dissonant chord of rebellion sounding throughout our nation’s history. In the show’s striking inaugural production from the Theatre @ Boston Court, Michael Michetti’s staging hits all the right notes.
Crooning original rockabilly-style tunes by Dietz and Phillip Owen that sound authentic enough for a 1950s diner jukebox, narrator Banks Boutté fronts a red-hot four-piece band to propel us through various subversive revolutions — musical, political, scientific — and the common sensibility of the discontented outcast that fuels them.
In the time period mash-up unfolding on Nick Santiago’s dance hall set, the freewheeling narrative — "as true to life as you can get without messing up the beat" — primarily involves the notorious Harpe brothers, whose brutal murder spree in the late 1700s holds up a fun house mirror to the War of Independence.
The hulking Big Harpe (AJ Meijer) and smarter sibling Little (Daniel MK Cohen) rationalize their crimes by portraying themselves as avenging monarchists lashing out at the flabby newborn American democracy, but such niceties don’t concern the gleefully sociopathic teeny-bopper sisters (Karen Jean Olds and Maya Erskine) who tag along for the thrill kill ride.