Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cerebral Entertainment

One of the more offbeat theatrical offerings of the moment is Think Twice at Spotlighters. Directed by Rodney Bonds, the program is actually two one-act plays, Lecture with Cello by Robert Moulthrop and Sapiens! by Rich Espey. In each one-man play, a monologue explores the complexity behind some commonplace truths.
In Lecture with Cello a formally dressed musician gives a lecture on---you guessed it---a cello. The lesson gradually deteriorates into philosophical musings on the nature of truth and then into a furniture-throwing rant ignited by a lost passion. Employing the full gamut of emotions and gestures, Rodney Bonds astutely portrays the Chekhovian lecturer as he deteriorates before the audience's eyes and practically in the audience's lap. But running over an hour in length, the monologue's more metaphysical musings became tiring.
In Rich Espey's more accessible Sapiens! a young science teacher reacts in shock as some of his students challenge the theory of evolution. As the teacher seeks help from dialogues with other scientists, his wife, and memories from the past, the teacher slowly realizes that even many scientific "facts" rest on high probabilities and that certain truths about cosmic and human events might legitimately derive from religious or emotional premises. Like Bottom, Joshua Snowden winningly creates all the parts: Adam the teacher and all his imagined interlocutors. What began as a predictable tale of enlightened evolutionists vs. rabid creationists finally emerges as a cautionary tale on intellectual humility.
These two austere monologues are not standard summer fare but, directed and acted with incandescent passion, they are challenging, complementary explorations of the obscurity of truth, artistic or scientific.

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