Sunday, February 24, 2008
Just as making a cat's cradle is deceptively deeper than it looks, so it goes with adapting Kurt Vonnegut's less-than-sunny novel, Cat's Cradle. Edward Einhorn takes a pretty good crack at it, but his condensations of plot come at the expense of the characters, and his definitions of Bokononism's terms come across as anti-foma, that is, truth that hurts the narrative of the play. Worse still, while the calypso lyrics are mostly ripped from the pages, they're roughly delivered by a chorus of musicians who, quite frankly, aren't very good. And worst of all, the direction often forces the play -- most particularly the explanation of ice-9, a central conceit -- to compete with the music: to accurately quote a Bokononist, it's all busy, busy, busy. Our hero, John (Timothy McCown Reynolds) is rational enough to be engaging, and he holds our attention even as he grows more and more tangled in a web of hastily drawn characters. Kudos to Evolve Company's model set, a projection of which is the only colorful thing on stage: that sort of crisp, clean translation of a key stylistic point is what this adaptation needs more of, and that means more cutting, better casting, and some sort of message. If science is magic that works, then it's time for this company to look toward science, for the random hocus-pocus they've got right now isn't working.