Monday, April 13, 2015

All The Names

I got to see this remarkable production by Pittsburgh's Quantum Theater. Based on the book by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago (it is one of my goals to read a book by every Nobel literature winner -- I guess this counts for half credit), this play takes place in several rooms of the "Original Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny", also known as the abandoned, decrepit half of the Hazlett Theater that was a police station for a little while. However, an ancient library that still has scars of being hastily converted into a police station which was then abandoned makes a perfect setting for this fascinating, Kafkaesque story. (spoilers ahead.) It is a story about a clerk in a dehumanizing institution who becomes obsessed with the identity of a person whose file card he pulls from a file by mistake. We follow him about his covert investigations, while we literally follow him through this weird old building. The performances were excellent, and fascinating -- there are a number of scenes where one character is played by two actors simultaneously, to captivating effect. There is some good use of projection to enhance performance, though honestly, I would have liked to see either more, or less of that. Every single one of the actors was fascinating in their own way, and that, plus an unusual and surreal Borges/Kafka story, plus a lot of interesting theatrical gimmicks was more than enough to keep me interested. I'd quite like to see it again, if I can. My favorite part about these performances designed around a space is their ephemeral nature -- so, if you are interested, see it while you can. I know I'm interested enough to read the book. Also -- it has Mark Conway Thompson, who used to be in Mummenschanz. Also also, live sheep. What more do you need? Stefon would love it.

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