Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Photo/Jordan Craven

Watching Dirt gave me theatrical blue balls. The script's repetition is fine -- necessary, even, so that Robert Schneider can impress upon us the way in which a culture thrusts a mentality of unworthiness upon immigrants (especially illegals). And the dim lighting, which makes it difficult to establish an emotional connection to the script, is at least qualified by protagonist Sad's electrical problems. I'm even willing to forgive Paul Dvorak's broken transposition of setting, from Germany to America, because even with ideological discrepancies, there's enough meat to Sad's struggle to light a fire under our asses. But all that this production manages to do is tease us -- the play promises to give us a release, but Christopher John Domig only snarls for a moment before taking it all back and reversing his position, settling -- always settling -- right back to where he began. That's frustrating enough, but when coupled with David Robinson's shaky direction -- he refuses to let Sad just exist, and needs to keep qualifying the long monologue with improbable changes in lighting -- it starts to get annoying. And above all else, Dirt fails the most important goal of a monologue: it speaks to no-one in the audience. We sure are talked at a lot, but there's never any sense that we're a necessary part of the play. Were we not there, I'm sure Domig would act exactly the same, and without that desperate desire to actually communicate something -- a problem compounded by the protagonist's tendency to lie about everything -- it's just a lecture, performed in darkness, with a slant that doesn't accurately mesh with America.

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