Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nihilism with the Carrots 

         Newly ensconced in the old Everyman Theatre complex on Charles Street, Single Carrot Theatre offers provocative fare with its new production, Caridad Svitch's  The Tropic of X
         The play sketches a dystopian portrait of a future society where drugged individuals wander from one fleeting sexual encounter and drug fix to another, where nations have disappeared and melted into a polyglot Babel, where people are mesmerized by video games and  cowboy arcades, where dark militarisitc forces pulverize individuals into quivering numbers. dystopia is very much a grim portrait of our own culture.  The mirror is embellished by Svitch's hauntingly poetic language, which crests into long, jagged tirades by the principal characters.  Dominating the wasteland are Maura (Genevieve Mahy) and Mori (Nathan Fulton), two waifs who wander from their indolent sex and drug games to more violent ones of mug-the-tourist.  They finally descend into terrifying games of soul destruction operated by the omnipresent miltary forces of darkness.  One's name, gender, memory, and language are annihilated in the unending violence.  Maura and Mori achieve a final resistance of sorts as they are washed out to sea and away from the social madness, but their death, entwined in each other's arms, is a Pyrrhic victory over the lacerating chaos.  The local prostitute Kiki (Jessica Garrett), a master of suvival in the chaos, offers cynical but wise commentary as the destruction of the hapless Marua and Mori progresses.  An elusive DJ, Hilton (Aldo Pantoja) offers a more distant commentary on an authoritatian, pointless society, propped up by pop rock selections from the golden sixities and beyond.  Paul Diem plays a variety of antagonist roles (the sexual tourist, the john, the brutal military officer) in the role of Fabian.

     Carefully directed by Nathan A. Cooper, the cast brings a certain pathos to their roles, which could have easily remained engimas in the disjointed plot.  They also bring out the poetic vitality in the long arias Svitch has planted within the surrealist gloom.

       Especially striking in this production is the set by Lisi Stoessel.  The torn collages and irregular platforms evoke the perilous ledge on which the characters play against death in this collapsed society.  The chaotic play of color and form points to the personal and social annihilation which has become an aesthetic as well as a political norm.


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