Have you ever wondered what Julia Child
was really thinking while she was chopping, mashing and pounding
in her TV kitchen? Maybe not. But apparently some people have.
"Re: Treat," an Off the Deep End production that combines performance, installation and noshing, suggests one possibility. It seems Ms. Child may not have been worrying if the tomatoes were ripe and the lettuce crisp. She was really musing over memories, reflecting on desire and reliving injustices. Her mind was miles away from the kitchen.
On stage at A:D/B Project Space in Fort Greene until Aug. 3, "Re: Treat" was conceived by Linsey Bostwick and Jen Zoble. Zoble also directs, and Bostwick, who produced the photographs of food that line the walls of the space, stars as the cook. It is she who prepares the chocolate chip cookies the audience is invited to share at the end of the show.
The two other performers are Irene Young and Molly Mullin. Their choreographed movements are reminiscent of those Bostwick uses while baking. Their disjointed dialogue represents her fantasies, dreams and delusions.
On occasion, Bostwick interacts with Young and Mullin, but for the most part she remains at her table diligently pouring and stirring throughout the performance. She shares the stage with Domino sugar, Morton salt and Pyrex bowls - all icons of the American kitchen.
The three actors are accompanied by the not very inspired music of Jennie Teague on guitar and sequencer.
Set and installation designer Christian Douglas has contributed some interesting three-dimensional collages composed of platters, baskets, hooks with towels, a holograph of Leonardo da Vinci’s "The Last Supper," and other objects related to the kitchen and eating. They share space on the walls with Bostwick’s photographs.
Over a steel worktable in the center of the space, Douglas has hung an assortment of kitchen utensils - eggbeater, bottle opener, potato masher - that might be called a mobile if they moved.
Nine artists worked on "Re: Treat" in one or more capacities. They are young, creative and obviously passionate about their work, which they call a "freshly baked installation of photography and performance." It’s a shame all that talent went to a production that’s not freshly baked but rather half-baked.
Like a baby rediscovering language and proudly repeating her first word, Off the Deep End has rediscovered the subconscious with all its fragments, randomness and repetitions. This is presented to the audience as art or theater or whatever.
There are repeated references to a missing brother, a need for baking powder and a meeting at which someone didn’t show up for some undisclosed reason.
There seem to be equal doses of anger and eroticism. Is the audience supposed to make sense of all this, or accept the concept that it all makes no sense?
And if it makes no sense, who cares?
Every audience has the right, indeed the responsibility, to demand something more than mindless movement and disconnected dialogue. The job of art, most especially theater, is to enlighten and explain.
At the very least, it should entertain. At its best, theater touches something deep within us, kindling an emotion - love, hate, anger or joy, to name a few. "Re: Treat" does none of this.
As the name implies, Off the Deep End has no direction and no focus. While the cookies are baking, delicious smells waft across the audience. Unfortunately, when tasted, the cookies do not live up to expectations. Like those cookies, "Re: Treat" left this reviewer with the taste of absolutely nothing and the desire for something more.
Off the Deep End Productions’ "Re: Treat" will be performed on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 at 7:30 pm and on Aug. 3 at 7 pm and 9:30 pm at A:D/B Project Space (1165 So. Portland Ave. between Hanson Place and Fulton Street in Fort Greene). Admission is $7. The photo exhibit and gallery installation is open for viewing through Aug. 3, noon to 6 pm, or by appointment. For more information, call (718) 855-9394 or visit www.adbps.com on the Web.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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