Sunday, August 26, 2007


Right now, Steffi Kammer's brave, autobiographical show, The Box, is a little too closed off. Her urban tale of growing up in Brooklyn's worst project, the lone white girl, smacks of authenticity, but her telling seems sheltered behind the safety of disassociative images, precisely the sort of memory-by-way-of-image she describes when talking about [Josef] Cornell boxes. At fifty minutes, the metaphors don't seem strained, but neither does Kammer's experience: her emotion peeks out, as if from behind a slightly ajar door, but her presentation is anything but jarring.
Her style presents the squalid past with rosy cheer, not resentment. To that end, the play is uplifting, but dramatically awkward; it is easier for Kammer to imitate the stereotypically rich Jewish ladies (whose idea of something not working is something that clashes) than it is, at times, for her to open up the full refrigerator of memories. She touches on a near rape with an older Russian man, the constant stress of her Swedish mother, and of a hopelessly romantic homeless man, but all the impact is boxed up with her memories.

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