Wednesday, February 18, 2009


photo: Pavel Antonov

A triptych of short, strange, highly stylized scenes, slightly unified by the theme of the limits of verbal communication, comprise this hypnotic ninety minute poem-play by Ariana Reines which The Foundry Theatre has produced with painstaking care. Every sonic and visual detail seems deeply considered and correct, working the play - which is an experience rather than a narrative - immediately into the subconscious. The first scene, and the only one of the three that could be said to be quirky, takes the first telephone conversation, between Alexander Graham Bell and Watson, as a starting point before peeling back layers of their consciousness about communication. The second scene, in which Jung's turn-of-the-century mental patient Miss St unleashes a frenzied torrent of words seemingly unfiltered from her schizophrenic mind, is overlong and exhausting to watch - it lacks the openness for interpretation of the other scenes, and once we get the point, there's not enough music in the words to hold our attention. Nonetheless its effect is essential for the success of the final scene, a spellbinding, meditative performance piece for all three actors in the cast (Matthew Dellapina, Gibson Frazier, and Birgit Huppuch) in which we wade in a sound stream of lines from intimate telephone conversations. I've rarely seen theatre that so effectively does what this scene accomplishes: it taps directly into the interior life of the audience.

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