note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey
Hats are all the rage (or rather, displaced rage) in Caryl Churchill’s wild, retro-futuristic, mechanistic cautionary tale, FAR AWAY, currently up at Zeitgeist Stage (at the BCA). Like George Lucas’ THX 1138, touching is forbidden. Like George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother is watching…and like George Bush’s 2003, political allegiances switch as fast as you can say “weapons of mass destruction.”
You’ll have to put on your thinking cap for this one. Like Ionesco’s plays, words don’t always mean what they say. Instead of the French and Indian War, Churchill gives us the French and Feline War---and just what does she have against dentists anyway? (Have you noticed that detrimental dental references are making their way into every new play? But I digress.)
Churchill’s totalitarian state is one where everyone and “everything can be recruited” as mercenaries. You can’t trust marauding mallards or Dutch elephants. You can’t even trust the weather. (We knew that, living in New England: “Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute and it’ll change.”)
Like Bartholemew’s hats in the children’s story, Churchill’s horrors multiply. Forget Oliver Sachs’ “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” there’s no neat neurological explanation for these mad hatters. It’s not the mercury. It’s the “evil-doers” everywhere with their dirty little bombs: Libya, North Korea, Iraq and Iran and all the Stans, not to mention France…and what about Canada, not FAR AWAY at all.
So a tip of the hat to David Miller’s chilling vision of myopia, and to his talented cast: Renee Miller, Nicole Braithwaite, Naeemah White-Peppers and Paul Rorie. As it cautions in the side-view mirror, “Objects are closer than they appear.”