Monday, June 02, 2008

EST Marathon 30: Series B

As I said about Series A, it's not worth focusing on the flaws of an uneven one-act festival: better to take note of those runners who hold up their leg of the race. To be fair, it's necessary to at least mention Neil LaBute, who has grown so sharp in The Great War that he's cut off all emotion and become an incindiary M. Night Shyamalan. That makes it easier to note the wild story of David Zellnick's Ideogram which manages to sharply satirize stereotypes while at the same time boiling down and condensing jealousy into a weird sort of mental noir. The weaknesses stand out right now (the forced flute solos), but that's only because the play is so short, and the concept otherwise so comic: undeveloped, it's still right up there with, say, the magical realism of Kevin Brockmeier. It's also important to illustrate the struggle, because then when you hit upon a winner, like Taylor Mac's fully developed and wholly satisfying Okay, it's clearer how good of a race the playwright's run. Setting a tragedy in a series of bathroom stalls keeps the door open for farce, and Taylor balances not only between the two styles, but seven wholly different voices, too--the show bursts with personality as the characters rant, snort, drink, and . . . sadly . . . give birth. Sound like your high school's senior prom?

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