Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sticky Time, by Crowded Fire and Vanguardian Productions

(Rami Margron, Lawrence Radecker and Michele Leavy in the co-production.  Photo by Dave Nowakowsaki.)

There was one image I loved in Sticky Time, an experimental co-production by Crowded Fire and Vanguard Productions that just closed:  Two performers on opposite sides of the stage froze in dramatic poses.  Then a video projected onto the body of each performer showing that performer acting out the scene (i.e., they were two different videos, timed so that the actors could have been delivering the lines in real time).  The play of moving image and sound on top of static, silent, but live body—both of which were representations of the same performer—was fascinating.  At any time, I could only take in either the image or the live body; if I tried to see the whole picture at once, the live body appeared to be moving.

High-concept as the show was, that moment was the only one that really captivated my imagination.  And it didn’t even seem necessary to the story; my enjoyment of it was purely aesthetic.  By virtue of the show's being experimental, one might expect it would play with the idea of “story,” if it even had one at all.  But I felt no connection to what I was seeing: three workers in a “time recycling plant” and a god-figure all making fatuous rhymes and wordplay with time-related expressions with lots of vague assertions of pain.  (I describe the piece a little more thoroughly in this feature in SF Weekly’s Night + Day section.)  Perhaps I would have felt differently if the show’s real topic, coming to terms with death, had become apparent earlier; as it was, I felt like I was listening to lots of histrionic screaming without knowing why.

But one thing I appreciated—and I don’t mean this in a snarky way—was that the show only lasted an hour.  There’s a general assumption in theater that you have to entertain audiences for about two hours for them to feel like they’ve had their money’s worth, which leads to a lot of over-long dramas, not to mention a certain monotony in the theatergoing experience.  So an interesting decision about length, even in an unsuccessful play, is still refreshing.


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