The absurdity of modern life is so often portrayed that it gets boring to hear that our lives are hell. Yeah we live in hard times. We try to connect and sometimes we do for a while. But then there’s the inevitable end game when we know something isn’t working. The end is nearing to jobs, friends, relationships, homes and our lives. Pretty awful, no?
That’s why it’s good to see a comedy about our lives that catches the potential laughs that make these lives worth living. Ildiko Nemeth the award winning director puts high energy life into Falk Richter’s mad display of lives gone wild under the control of digital forces.
Using multi-media images to create a world of airport malls and massive impersonal ubiquitous dwellings we are transported into the lives of shattered businessman Tom (Brandon Lee Olson) and confused mall shop clerk Joy (Jeanne Lauren Smith).
Olson’s Tom is so over the top that I believed his histrionic reaction to missing a plane would lead to the end of the world. Then he tries to find his next apartment in a new city in a building where every floor and door are identical in the cause of contemporary and efficient design. His mind is so distraught from missing a meeting that he forgot his apartment number. The result is a moment to remember forever as he tries to remember his PIN number so he can open his new computer where that information is stored.
It was as close to Lucille Ball’s “I Love Lucy” as I ever seen. Portraying knowledge that you don’t know is a great enlightenment. Getting there is real comedy.
Shop girls’ lives are depicted as either falling in love with a secret millionaire or a drudgery of daily insults and pressures. Smith gives Joy, an absurd name to begin with, just the right amount of anxiety and anger when her hand scanner, “It’s the only thing I have to do and it doesn’t work,” craps out. Watching and listening to her trying to call the home office for instructions is a Saturday Night Live skit in itself. Her self-control explodes into a mechanical madness. Time for a new love to enter her life.
What could add more life to Joy’s daily stresses than neurotic Tom who can’t face next electronic horror. They fall in love, have a brief fling, declare love then try to meet up again at some airport where she’s working and he’s making a connection to a meeting. It’s modern love with broad comedy and a bit of pain.
There’s a chorus of consciousness describing more horrors in an ongoing attempt to set the tempo of Tom and Joy’s love. Maciej Bartoszewski, Beth Dodye Bass, Bjorn Bolander, Tatanya Kot, Rikin Shah all keep the action moving in poetry and movement. Chris Tanner’s wise oration provokes laughter like a stand up comedian.
Nemeth’s team once again presents winning theater on a small stage with big ideas and action. Go see it.
Innovative Theatre Awards 2019:
Outstanding Innovative Design
Outstanding Performance Art Production