Sunday, June 08, 2008

Frequency Hopping

photo: Dixie Sheridan

The latest show at 3LD makes smart, artful use of technology: besides the moving projections both behind and in front of the playing area, there are automated musical instruments from floor to ceiling on either side of the stage. The resulting effect, which sometimes makes it seem as if the actors are inside a giant gadget, is of high visual interest and thematic validity but it's also a little distancing, and the script (by Elyse Singer, who also directed this production) lacks the needed drive to mitigate that. Nonetheless, the fact-based story here (in which movie star Heddy Lamar, privvy to Nazi secrets, seduces American composer George Antheil into brainstorming a technology to foil German missiles) holds our attention anyhow, especially when it uses the technology-rich environment to illustrate moments that would be impossible to dramatize on a traditional stage. The play makes gender-politics hay out of the gap between Lamarr's public sex symbol status and her private high-minded passions - for that reason I was reminded more than once of Insignificance, which imagines a get-together between Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein - but the show's style of presentation cries out for a larger unifying theme than that.

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