Saturday, April 12, 2008
Untitled Mars (This Title May Change)
If Miranda July made plays instead of movies, they'd look and sound like Jay Scheib's frenzied yet passionless, meticulous yet sloppy, artificial yet somehow realistic new play Untitled Mars (This Title May Change). As with his last work, This Place is a Desert, Jay relies on hyperphysical action to compensate for dry yet hammy dialogue (spam?), and uses multiple camera feeds and projections to create a visual mash-up of landscapes and emotions that's cool. But this coolness comes at a price, an arctic absolute zero that freezes out plot and gets lost in the fiction. All that humanity on Mars serves as a parable for human behavior -- we won't just terraform Mars, we'll psychoform it, too -- but it's only occasionally expressed well, as when Norbert (Balazs Vajna) rips a hole in his suit, literally dying of depression. Ultimately, it's hard to be taken seriously in anti-gravity, and Jay Scheib -- even with his abundance of creativity, fierce charm, and surprise -- never quite manages to do the trick.