Sarah is an administrator and Artmaker

Laura is an actor, director and deviser 

 

Sarah

Let’s start with what is in our pockets about this show. I know one of the actors but have no other relationships to the company.

 

Laura

I came in with a whole bunch. I’ve worked with IRC and know/have worked with/love almost everybody onstage. But I’ve never been to the Bethany Mission Gallery, and it is AMAZING. That lighting fixture walking in was awesome.

 

Sarah

The old radio collection could have taken my whole day!

 

Laura

It’s crazy that a play has never happened in there before. The IRC (which is to say, Tina Brock) is really good at finding unconventional places.

 

Sarah

Do you know this play well? Have you seen it?

 

Laura

Yeah, BRAT’s 24 Hour Version. And I’ve read it. I go back and forth on the play. Have you?

 

Sarah

I’ve seen it before but it’s been years. I had a vague recollection but nothing concrete.

 

Laura

It’s a hard one. Especially with “English” accents.

 

Sarah

I will say I came into the show wondering why it was being produced at this moment.

 

Laura

It’s not as emotionally poignant or accessible as some of Ionesco’s other work, so I am curious as to why this play, besides  the fact that it’s fun for actors to spit those words out. I have a friend who thinks this is the worst play ever, so I also had his voice in the back of my head.

 

Sarah

Yeah, I kept thinking “this is a really good acting exercise but I’m not sure what else it’s for.”

 

Laura

I’m picky with absurdist theatre in the same way I’m picky about shock theatre. I need it to be truly shocking or sublimely silly, and I get sad when it falls in between.

 

Sarah

I was really impressed with John Zak’s performance. I felt like his choices were as big as they needed to be.

 

Laura

He is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated actors in this city. He is ALWAYS giving 100% and remains honest and funny.

 

Sarah

I would have watched him keep doing that show forever. Tina Brock’s face can go from heartbreak to hysterics in a second, which is awesome. I thought Arlen Hancock as the fire chief was great, too. He brought a different energy to the room. Everyone else was manic and he was a bit more steady.

 

Laura

His stillness was really amazing. When he walked in that room I was like THIS IS THE PLAY. That stupid (see also: amazing) giant fire hose!

 

Sarah

I felt like the four main characters were all aiming to be manic cartoons but only Zak really went there, so Arlen’s performance was a strong contrast. And a breath of fresh air. I loved his whole outfit so much, silly giant fire hose included.

 

Laura

When playing a manic cartoon, it’s finding the human underneath that’s the trick. There just weren’t as many levels in the performances for me to stay entertained. I found myself checking my watch a lot.  I thought the stillness was VERY compelling. The words, not so much. The weird sort-of-accents were just so distracting.

 

Sarah

Speaking of the fire hose, costumes by Erica Hoelscher were really delightful.

 

Laura

ERICA HOELSCHER. IS. THE. BEST. COSTUME. DESIGNER. IN. THE. CITY. ALL CAPS.

 

Sarah

I don’t know if I’ve seen her work before, but I thoroughly enjoyed her choices for this production. Can we talk about the maid?  I hated it.

 

Laura

I did too, but not because of the actor. Tom Dura is really compelling. His small role in The Chairs last year was incredible.

 

Sarah

People dressed in a gender nonconforming way, in this case a man dressed in feminine clothing, is not inherently funny or absurd, and to present that as a joke is reckless.

 

Laura

And just not necessary.

 

Sarah

It didn’t help the story, and in fact made the moments where the couples were acting annoyed with or horrified by the maid extra offensive. As someone who didn’t know the show very well before going in, I kept wondering if this was just a super offensive old play or a super insensitive choice.

 

Laura

Tina Brock is an extraordinarily thoughtful director. For her to make a decision like that, which almost seems flippant, is really strange.

 

Sarah

I could tell some choices were so careful, so I felt like it had to be a deliberate action.  The direction overall felt good, but I think an outside eye was needed. The scenes Tina wasn’t in felt much more specific. I question whether people should direct themselves.

 

Laura

I agree 100%. It’s too hard. Devising work and knowing what you need to do to make that work is one thing, but crafting a really hard, established, piece while being inside of it is almost impossible.

 

Sarah

I did love how stripped down the production was. The costumes were the only detailed design element. The set was mostly just the gallery we were in, which was a perfect mishmash of items all over the walls, plus a scant living room setup. No lighting design and a minimal sound design. The produciton really relied on the cast. The text is so much that a distracting design could have made it even harder to enjoy and process.

 

Laura

The design was definitely very clean, and you could see the love.

 

Sarah

Honestly the funniest thing in the play for me was how loud the stairs were whenever anyone entered or exited.

 

Laura

I just get so whirlwinded in Ionesco plays and it’s hard for me to catch up enough to laugh. I need to be surprised, not confused.

 

Sarah

There were moments where I registered the joke but we were already on an entirely different joke’s setup. I felt like I had no time to process. Although it also felt like everyone else in the room already knew the play.  There were some laughs at the very top where I wondered ” is everyone laughing cause they already know what’s about to happen?

 

Laura

I think a lot of the people in the audience are IRC regulars, and Tina has a very specific directing style. You can spot it right away. So it’s very possible they were like “oh, I know where I am.”

 

Sarah

Overall, I’m not sure why this play was chosen or what they were trying to say with it.   I know- it’s absurdism! But there’s normally a more relevant or of the moment point being made by this absurdist company.

 

Laura

IRC is a really incredible company.

 

Sarah

I agree wholeheartedly. IRC is needed in the scene for sure and I’m glad they are casting such talented people.  This wasn’t my favorite of their work because of what felt like a transphobic misstep, and the choice of a play that doesn’t really speak to the moment, but I’m rooting for this company and I’ll be back.

 

Laura

And I feel very fortunate to know that the Bethany Mission Gallery is a place I can visit.

 

Sarah

That space is incredible!

Advertisements

One thought on “The Bald Soprano: Idiopathic Ridiculosity Consortium

  1. Wow. I wonder why you won’t show yourselves. There are plenty of authentic reviewers in the city. It is a cowardly act to vacillate between love and hate and not show your face. We know who you are, just so you know. And it is troubling to think that artists would hold such a stereotypical perspective when they claim to be feminists. Trans-phobic my ass. Anonymity is ABSURD. And to see two privileged white women, who have no business critiquing anything related to race and to insist that casting was done “on purpose” is to set the movement for racial justice back to 1861. Go Ionesco, Go IRC, and go LGBTQ! (And yes, Thom Dura, you are brilliant, as is the whole cast- and yes, we are people of color, as we all are.We are transgender and in love with this production).

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s