"We can talk about love and all the ways it wraps itself around us until it's just another form of suffocation," cries one of the many characters caught up in the pains and pangs of Jay Scheib's This Place is a Desert. And that's exactly what happens: a series of tight and interconnected rooms give way to a tangled snarl of relationships that overlap and clash like human hurricanes. Furthermore, a series of cameras and a passive observer (Kenneth Roraback) air the real time scenes from multiple angles, catching each character's reactions like windows to the soul, a creative use of multimedia that allows for poetic, image-heavy transitions.
- In Spite of Everything
In Spite of Everything is the best use of spoken word that I've seen in a play yet; an urban yet arty mix of Laramie-like exploration and poetic imagination that divorces itself from reality even as it plunges itself back in, deeper, through brilliant metaphor. Only The Suicide Kings (Rupert Estanislao, Jaime DeWolf, and Geoff Trenchard) know how much of their story is true, but it hardly matters: whether it's a poem about getting fed up in the service industry, dealing with acne, or watching Columbine in reverse, there isn't a verse that isn't relevant, not a thought that someone in the audience won't agree with.
- Low: Meditations Trilogy Part 1
Photo/Jean Jacques Tiziou
Low opens with a blank slate: an empty chair on one of those white-floored and white-walled setups most familiar from a modeling session or an Apple commercial. For the first fifteen minutes; Rha Goddess endears us to Low, putting a high squeak in her voice to sound purposefully cute, moving around the space freely yet gracefully. But Meditations is an all-too accurate description of this trilogy, for if the first part is any indication, her characters will all be internalized rather than experienced. Chay Yew has done an excellent job of casting cages of light on the floor, and moving his actor across the stage, but it's up to Rha to show us something more. Right now, Low is just talk, and it's nothing we haven't heard before.
I'm sure that Michel Melamed's Regurgitophagy is a great stream-of-consciousness play: I say this because it's one of my fundamental beliefs that you should always give a man who is electrocuting himself the benefit of the doubt. But what I saw was a man desperately trying to communicate something to the audience about consciousness, and an audience desperately trying not to laugh. You see, thanks to Melamed's "Pau-de-Arara," any time we made noise, he'd get an electrical shock. Honestly? After ten minutes, I wanted to clap just to hurt him.