Michael + Patrick seem to be rebelling against the theater’s ruling class: kitchen sink dramas, heady idea plays, and — worst of all — amusement park attractions masquerading as Broadway musicals. And so Michael + Patrick have created something else, something other.
Tina Satter’s direction and Half Straddle’s pitch-perfect company establish and then maintain an unblinking focus that cuts through the dissipating fog and rewards the audience’s taut attention.
If fantasy has the power to instantiate, and maintain such debilitating power structures, could it also be the very force required to undo them?
The Making of King Kong sets out to unpack the monstrosity of our current cultural moment via the monkey, simultaneously evoking a 1930s acting style (transatlantic accents abound) while complicating itself with very-much-now identity politic-infused dialogue.
We eventually spend less time on saddles and hats, and more time on trying to get inside that frictional feeling of being pressed into a hookup’s smelly, hairy crotch while he calls you “pretty.”
What would it mean, Café Play wonders, if we could be more present– less tweets, phones off, open to chance strangers seated nearby, ears attuned to those around us, and to the creatures and objects outside of our usual frequencies?
There is pain, hurt, lovesickness for miles in every direction, emanating from this club across the country, world, and intergalactic beyond.
What makes this Oklahoma more than just smart is how it ruthlessly strips away the glaze of nostalgia that usually accompanies such restagings in order to uncover what seemingly must have always lurked there, submerged just below the musical’s glossy surface.
Payne keeps his audience from jumping ahead to any particular conclusion by deploying a second (bigger, metatheatrical) frame around Karma’s story, one in which the house lights keep coming up and we are rendered, without a choice, visible – to the actors, to the audience, and (most disturbingly) to ourselves.
This testing, naming, retreating, reframing; lifting to the light the grays and yellows and beiges and browns of inner worlds – is often the dance of the play.
Hammel draws us in to her experience, while granting us a bit of separation from the material itself (which is unrelentingly bleak, flirting with misogyny, although its view of the male specimen isn’t without contempt either).
This is Peter Pan set in a dystopian futureland, the music acting as a remnant of a memory of a time when feeling was more possible, when childhood was more innocent; before we found ourselves up against a neon wall, staring out at the void, attempting to determine if we’ve (finally, like Peter did when he flew back one night only to find the window closed against him) reached a point of no return.