Saturday, June 1, 2013

Theater Ninjas: Telephone

My schedule of late* has contributed to a distinct lack of theatre in my life of late. Tonight Rachel and I traveled across the bridge to the Ohio City Masonic Temple to attend Theatre Ninjas' production of Ariana Reines play Telephone.

The common  thread linking each of the Theater Ninjas  productions that I've attended -- as far back as 2007-- is that they are anything but conventional -- unique venues, unconventional story telling and unusual stagings.

Telephone (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays through June 15th) continues that tradition although it would seem to fall on the "more dense" end of the spectrum.

The three well-defined acts span about 90 minutes with no intermission, but rather than pieces of the same whole they strike as three independent wholes, and Jaime Bouvier's Director's Note alludes to it being a "...forced mishmash of ideas and stories about the telephone as a synecdoche of all communications technology" (bonus points for being the first director's note that warranted use of for synecdoche).

The first act, featuring Ryan Lucas as Bell and Ray Caspio as Watson, offered the dynamic interaction between the two inventors, the evolution of communication, and the relationships between two individuals and the evolution of understanding as communication technology was introduced, and the subtle nuances in those relationships and the difference between "come here, I want you" and "come here, I need you".

The second act, with Holly Holsinger alone on and around the stage as Miss St, a woman trapped in her own thoughts an struggling with uniqueness and interruption.

Rachel and I both struggled with the third act -- featuring all three artists -- for me I think I spent so much time trying to link it with the first two acts that I was distracted from appreciating the act itself and would have been better off enjoying the moment.

Something that I hadn't considered but Rachel pointed out as we were retreating to the East Side was that the nonsequeter nature of much of the script must have made the show that much more challenging for the three actors to learn -- and the fact that I hadn't given pause to consider that demonstrated the talent of the trio.

Telephone also features generous but not excessive use of audio and video technology -- both audio and video -- to both propel the acts and to illustrate the prevalence of communication technology in the modern world.

*- And, to be perfectly honest, the inertia caused by the inconvenience of doing business with Playhouse Square (and The Cleveland Play House now in residency there) has not helped either.

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