This is the most incoherent and fragmented review that I have ever written. Which pretty much describes the play I saw.
L.A. Party and An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk, conceived by New York theatre artist Phil Soltanoff, are two one-man shows—with no man.
In L.A. Party a fanatical vegan falls off the purity wagon, plunging head first into a wild, drug-induced bender in the City of Angels. Six performers on stage produce a compelling composite human being to recount the hilarious short story, mixed with live video. L.A. Party is engaging storytelling at its most elemental, matched with innovative low-tech but high-concept special effects.
L.A. Party is a deconstructed play. The setting is superimposed on one actor’s body. The facial expressions and lipsyncing of another are projected onto her taped features via projected video camera. And the performer speaks from a microphone the whole time. You kind of have to see it to get how this works.
My initial thoughts: Bizarre. Soltanoff captures the sheer madness of being there but not there, all at the same time. Four kinds of drugs working their magic on a raw food vegan. My favourite part was the long, rambling soliloquy at the end. Soltanoff goes on for a good five minutes, and concludes as abruptly as he started.
In An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk sound and video clips of Captain James T. Kirk of the original Star Trek series are stitched together to create a meticulously catalogued montage. Like an oracle, the young Shatner beams from the screen to ‘speak’ about art, science and the human condition of the future. This is theatre conceived for a post-human world.
Five minutes into William Shatner, which was the reason I went in the first place, it all got a little too post-modern for me. The idea is pretty genius: a monologue/rant delivered in a series of spliced Captain Kirk scenes. Word for word, the message is crafted together, with laughable inflections and context. It worked for about five minutes.
Then it just got jarring for the sake of being jarring.
Artists take risks, and lay it all out on the table. Audiences attending PuSh do the same, and not everything is to everyone’s takes. The point is to try something new.
I can’t remember the last time I had such fragmented, disparate thoughts about a performance. And I think that’s the real lesson behind the combination of L.A. Party / An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk.
L.A. Party / An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk is part of the PuSh Festival, which runs until February 2, 2014. Advanced tickets here.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barlow.