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MARS ATTACKS • Brooklyn Paper

MARS ATTACKS

Inside jokers: Clockwise from top left are Antonio Rodriguez, Jenny Penny Curry, Ryan Shogren, Frederick Silo Gunsch and Cassandra Weston, the cast of the Brooklyn Theater Company's production of "It Goes...BOOM!" now on stage at the Present Company Theatorium.

In his notes to the audience, Christopher
Weston, director of "It Goes…BOOM!" writes, "We
began this process four months ago, with no concept, no script,
nothing except the idea of time."

After seeing this latest production from
the Brooklyn Theater Company, now at Present Company Theatorium
on the Lower East Side, one has the impression that not much
has changed. The play still has no concept and no script. And
the idea of time has turned into a waste of time.

Although Antonio Rodriguez gets the writing
credit for this mess, Weston claims the production is "one
possible result of months of collaboration." Apparently,
some time during those months, the idea of "time" was
narrowed down to speed, "the acceleration of everything
in a world plagued by hurry-sickness."

My, my, what an original concept!

But staleness and a tendency toward cliches
are not the worst in "It Goes…BOOM!," named after
the primordial bang, one supposes. Convinced they’ve gotten hold
of something tremendously original, Weston and his ensemble use
every trick in the book to prove to the audience that they don’t
need to follow any of the conventions of drama to create "theater."

The play is a series of vignettes that
employ techniques from silent movies, vaudeville, television
commercials, the Borscht Belt, Las Vegas and multimedia shows
to trace the evolution of mankind from the Stone Age to the just
plain stoned.

The vignettes are introduced and analyzed
by Analisa Posterna (Jenny Penny Curry), a young woman wearing
a slinky evening dress and a year’s supply of makeup, who is
suspended in a makeshift swing.

On a balcony high above the stage sits
Drexler Whitestar (Rodriguez) who appears to be a combination
producer and mad scientist executing a kind of "techno-rapture"
in which technology takes over the world, replacing humans at
the top of the evolutionary chain.

There are, of course, the usual snipes
at the pope, consumerism, the family, you name it, and you’ll
probably find it if you care to look. But why bother? Most of
the dialogue seems vaguely related to the automatic writing made
famous by the surrealists and later abandoned, or else parodies
of writing not important enough to remember.

Weston claims he and his colleagues were
influenced by Stewart Brand’s book "The Clock of the Long
Now," the writings of physicist Stephen Hawking and Zen
Buddhist philosophy.

They might have done better reading Tennessee
Williams and Eugene O’Neill, or, if they’ve got a penchant for
the absurd, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, before embarking
on the serious business of producing a play.

Good plays are filled with ideas. But they
also have discernable plots, characters and dramatic action that
carry the theme. They are not the undisciplined meandering of
adolescent minds.

When the lights came up and it appeared
the play was over, at first I thought I’d let this one slide.
I’ve done it before – not review a play that was a mistake from
beginning to end. But then I remembered a play by Rodriguez that
I’d reviewed last May, "Tigers Through Veils Kissing."
I had called that play, staged at Underhill 190 in Prospect Heights,
"a precious combination of creativity, originality and sheer
talent that is both breathtaking and inspiring."

And I decided a writer with such talent
deserved more than silence. Rodriguez needs to be told to stop
the self-indulgence and get back to the self-examination that
produces really great work.

When, and if, he follows this advice, he
need not look far for actors.

Curry and the three other actors who accompany
Rodriguez, Frederick Silo Gunsch, Ryan Shogren and Cassandra
Weston, all have a refreshing energy and enthusiasm that might
well translate into some serious dramatic or comedic acting.
This writer believes all that talent could be put to much better
use.

Doubtless, there will be people who enjoy
"It Goes…BOOM!" Science fiction aficionados 25 years
old and under may get some of the inside jokes that this writer
did not. But plays are not written or produced for those few
in-the-know; they should be accessible to all of us who want
to know.

 

"It GoesBOOM"
plays through May 5, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets
are $12. Present Company Theatorium is located at 198 Stanton
St. between Attorney and Ridge streets in Manhattan. For reservations,
call (212) 420-8877.


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