Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fake Lake

Speaking of shitty seating, the metal bleachers at the Welles Park Swimming Pool take the cake. When The Neo-Futurists tell audiences to 'dress comfortably', what they mean is 'wear something with an extremely padded ass'. You've been warned.

Fake Lake falls into that awkward genre of theatrical writing -- beyond 'based on true events', beyond even 'based on true autobiographical events', this is that sort of 'based on true autobiographical events that will be relayed to you in first person by the playwright who will in one and the same time relay and reflect these events as well as the fact that she is relaying and reflecting them." Or, as director Halena Kays calls it in the Director's Notes: "off-loop, storefront, self-referential, site-specific, spectacle-based, narrative, Neo-Futurist, sciencetastic, meta-theatrical, post-modern, ensemble-based, collaborative, physical theater". Call it Memoir Theatre.

The problem, or rather very common potential problem, with anything this self-referential and meta-narrative (especially when the playwright is also playing herself/narrator), is that the audience never quite grasps the full picture nearly as well as the artist. Made aware very early that Neo-Futurist Sharon Greene lived these events as she tells them, we can't help but be a few steps behind her, aware of the slightly mocking tone she takes, but without her knowledge of the people and events to make the satire truly funny. And by the time the show weaves into ecologically meaningful doc theatre, it's a hard turn for those of us still trying to figure out a way to wrap ourselves around the personal story.

But there are parts that work marvelously, and they seem to come at the times that Greene either relives the story as much for her sake as ours (a he [should've] said/she [should've] said evening by LED candlelight) or allows it to tell itself (after acknowledging the length of time it takes the Welles Park fluorescent lights to come back on, the cast plays around in the pool for a few minutes, transforming a tedious wait into a breathtaking sunrise). It's moments like these that remind us that moments like these are universal, not something that happened to Sharon Greene that we should know about.


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