Reid Farrington at PS122

Saturday night took us to see Reid Farrington’s Gin and “It” at PS122.  The latest in this season’s numerous staged deconstructions of film, Farrington brings a whole new level of technical artistry to the genre.  Insofar as there is “story” – Gin and It is a slippy, surreal comedy about the grips backstage during the filming of the movie Rope – three competent ones and one hapless one who race around attempting to capture the action, hit their marks and make their cues during the single-take process. But more than anything Gin and It is about movie magic and sleight-of-hand, it is about deception and illusion, about the theories and techniques we use to justify our perspectives on reality.

Gin and It defies categorization in a way that is probably frustrating to traditional theater-goers, because it dispenses with plot and conflict, trafficking mostly in images and ideas. In this way it is more like a visual art installation that you observe, but with live performers interacting with the video.

I reflect back on my pet peeve of late about Visual Art Performance and its general lack of professional skill either technically or by its performers. Farrington succeeds in creating spectacle that constantly surprises and amazes, you find yourself asking, “How did they do that?” when a performer “catches” the video on one of the screens that they are constantly shuttling around the stage.

It is exciting that this work is being presented in a theater, as theater. It is part of a process of convergence between the theater world and the visual art world and hopefully these two worlds can come into dialogue more frequently. I’d like to see more visual art performance created with Farrington’s rigor and I’d like to see more theater that challenges our traditional notions of the theatrical event.

Gin and It is definitely a fascinating step in the right direction.

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