I just sent a note to every theater reviewer I could think of urging them to SEE the production of Naomi Iizuka's "Polaroid Stories" that will be at the BCA through 14 July --- and I urge anyone reading this to see it as well. It showcases some of the best talents Boston's "Theater Fringe" has --- featuring two and a half excellent directors, seventeen performers whose names will be familiar to anyone who has seen much small theater here, and the high production-values of Three of our best fringe companies: Boston Actors' Theater, Happy Medium Theatre, and Heart & Dagger Productions. It is a riveting theatrical exerience, and a watershed production displaying the best that "underground theater" here in Boston can provide.
But don't believe me --- go see it yourself, then decide.
First, a few words of caution:
Iizuka's script is episodic and scattergun rather than ploddingly plotted. It has the flavor of "The Summer of Love" in both its ecstatic joys of emerging self-awareness, as well as its descent into cruelties, rip-offs and decadence. Its brangling characters are mainly young street-people bristling with attitude and hang-ups and in-your-face conflicts, and you may think you smell a backstage joint or two here and there.
But that doesn't undercut the fact that some characters are named Philomel, Eurydice, Echo, Orpheus, Narcissus, Persephone, and Semele --- and that they genuinely personify those myths, although in hyper-contemporary terms: Luke Murtha's Orpheus sings and proclaims his love in such endlessly repeating terms as to bore his lady-love (Melissa deJesus), while failing his one chance to prove it; Michael Underhill's Narcissus is a personification of self-adoration that Elizbeth Batty's pale, bespectacled Echo cannot impress; Kiki Samko's Persephone enjoys bringing people down; Robyn Linden's Semele continually demands proof, even when its revelation means her destruction; and poor Philomel! Danielle Leeber Lucas wanders in a pure white shift (spattered with blood at one point from her cut out tongue) tremulously singing like the nightingale she will become. And yet these are contemporary-clothed humans, each trapped in achingly honest obsessions.
understand also that Michael Clark Wonson's lighting is deliberately murky most of the time --- with spots often directed straight at spectators' eyes --- and punctuated with cuts to total blackout to bite off a sequence and change scene. Director Joey Pelletier and Choreographer/Co-Director Elise Weiner Wulff enjoy the sprawled chaos of these interpenetrating stories, and repeatedly fling the huge cast about the stage awhile each blurting "My name is..." in bewildering rapidity. They use dance, movement, and physical conflict as eloquently as speech --- and they know that at some points even the most deeply committed can look laughably ridiculous. And then, of course, the course of true love never did run smooth, did it --- not in Attic Greece nor hippie California nor the Plaza Black Box at the BCA.
I am an admitted theater-junkie, and everyone on stage is a familiar old friend --- but I think, in this production, each and every one of them as they come on stage are better that I have ever seen them before.
Something in the water, maybe?
But I am just an admitted theater-junkie, and what do I know about plays? See for yourselves, and you decide...
Break a leg all!
( a k a larry stark )