The Phoenix Network:
 
 
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 

The play's not the thing

Epic's meandering trip to 'Fire Island'
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 18, 2013

 0621_Theater_fire_top.jpg
CONFUSED COUPLINGS Arruda and Sanphy. [Photo by Kevin Broccoli]

Historian Charles L. Mee is also a playwright with a lengthy list of works to his credit, but he could more accurately be called an anti-playwright. Having declared that “there is no such thing as an original play,” he has proceeded, typically, to assemble and reconstruct theater pieces from found texts.

The result is such works as Fire Island, which Epic Theatre Company is rendering (through June 22). It’s directed by Kate
Lester, who imaginatively choreographed the experimental rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which the Wilbury Group staged last year.

Unfortunately, the reason this work makes such an effective anti-play is that it is almost entirely devoid of every element that makes plays so compelling — character development, building storyline, dramatic arc, insightful denouement. Nah. Any of that would be patronizing, bourgeois, insultingly interesting.

It doesn’t take a close reading of John Dewey’s Art As Experience to determine that effective storytelling requires structure and closure.

The program offers some orientation, quoting Mee as writing that the play “wants to feel like a single, continuous tracking shot, moving from couple to couple without a break.” The director adds, “We are voyeurs in this world, eavesdropping on private moments.” Lester underscores that motif by having the audience escorted around the wide hallway of Hope Artiste Village, encountering couples who proceed to do their little gavottes of approach or avoidance.

The trouble with eavesdropping on private moments, apart from inducing glowers, is that you are gathering fragments, and no matter how clever you are at collage, the result will be, well, fragmentary.

There are some brief set pieces, coherent mini-scenes, especially toward the end, when some relationships do settle into some sort of closure, lovers united or separated with finality.

The light tone is set right off the bat when Nikos (Nick Viau) goes up to a stranger, Lydia (Amanda Grossi), and says that he would like to marry her, though for the moment he’ll settle for “a courtship,” declaring, “I want a love that consumes my whole life.” She’s surprised but not alarmed, though he doesn’t leave much space in his monologue for her to say much of anything. She excuses herself to go off for coffee.

That exchange is followed by a similar proposal, somewhat more formal, by a young man with a British accent and black tie, Edmund (Ian Sanphy), to Ariel (Jay Davani), but this time he’ s the one to suggest coffee. The ardor is soon echoed by Nikos when he approaches a blonde, Susan (Meg Taylor-Roth), who was drawing in a sketchbook, saying that he wants her to love him as intensely as he does her. We learn that they live together.

All right, we get it. Passion can be compulsive.

1  |  2  |   next >
| More


[ 04/17 ]   New Madrid  @ Fete Lounge
[ 04/17 ]   Veronica Meadows, by Stephen Thorne  @ Trinity Repertory Company
ARTICLES BY BILL RODRIGUEZ
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MEN AT WORK  |  April 16, 2014
    The Pulitzer Prize Board, which likes to honor theatrical gems of Americana, may have been remiss in not nominating David Rabe’s 1984 ' Hurlyburly .'
  •   SEARCHING FOR CLUES  |  April 09, 2014
    A "girl detective" makes her  world premiere.
  •   ROSE-COLORED MEMORIES  |  April 09, 2014
    Incessant media accounts of horrific events can prompt compassion fatigue.
  •   MENTAL SHRAPNEL  |  April 02, 2014
    Brave or foolhardy? The Wilbury Theatre Group is presenting Sarah Kane’s controversial Blasted , a 1995 play that at the time was decried as juvenile, taken to the woodshed by critics, and flayed to shreds.
  •   A ROWDY ROMP  |  March 26, 2014
    In his time, Georges Feydeau was to theater what McDonald’s is to cuisine — cheap, easy to consume, and wildly popular.

 See all articles by: BILL RODRIGUEZ



  |  Sign In  |  Register
 
thePhoenix.com:
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
TODAY'S FEATURED ADVERTISERS
Copyright © 2014 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group