A PRO-CHOICE ARGUMENT
Michael Michetti’s staging of Kathryn Walat’s Creation will, I hope, long hold the record in my experience for Most Literal Production. This decidedly non-realistic play does much to invite such a treatment: its awkward, unhelpful structure features many redundant soliloquies (a trope in which the director has his actors engage the audience directly, to the benefit neither of story nor storytelling); its on-the-nose narrative includes Hand of God gestures like thunderbolts and kismet and one too many convenient serendipities. That actual cracks appear in the walls at dramatic shifts, that every thought in each character’s mind is divulged to the audience, that projections notify us of the beginnings and ends of the play’s “movements,” all testify to the rejection of subtlety. If this extraordinarily talky play had any light to shine on any of its small gems of idea, maybe it would all be worth the effort. But it does not, and so it is not merely long but exasperatingly so.
Career creationism debunker Ian (Johnathan McClain) is struck by lightning and revived by his pathologist wife Sarah (Deborah Puette). Ian begins to exhibit atypical behavior, including a willingness to entertain concepts of faith (how’s that for overt) and an inability to stop composing music. His neurologist Amal (Ethan Rains) thinks Ian’s got brain damage, but maybe that’s only because Amal thinks he and Sarah were meant for each other. Adam Silver plays Zach, a graduate student in musical composition whom Ian befriends with an ulterior motive. Why Zach is written and played as a queer stereotype is a function of this play that escapes me, because Boston Court wouldn’t mount a drama featuring a neutered yet flamboyantly gay comic relief character, would it? In 2012?
This play’s interesting concepts (neurological questions about the origins of inspiration, faith, and love) and its potentially entertaining narrative elements (a mounting flirtation; a brutal exploitation) could make a good show. They could make two or three good shows. They don’t make this one. This writer treats even simple dramatic exercises like obscure phenomena, unsure how to deal with revelation, uncomfortable with pace, and helpless with tone. For a long chunk the play feels like a medical practice television show, complete with convenient flashbacks (write a pilot if you must but please don’t do a single-scene flashback onstage) and a neutral color palette (set by Francois-Pierre Couture; projection design by Adam Flemming) and lots of chirpy prime-time banter. Later, it reminded me of a bad issue play of the Rod Serling variety, chatty but lacking an element of fascination. But all too frequently this play just feels like a scratch pad. Ms. Walat’s talking heads resemble characters less than they do lists of questions a writer ought to ask herself before a second draft. Her scenes are the paragraphs of a poorly organized essay.
Ms. Walat trusts the audience exactly as far as she can throw it, and so we are constantly ahead of her. At one point in the third movement, while Ian tried for periphrastic minutes to talk Zach into something Zach was obviously going to do from the moment we met him, an hour and a half previous, I felt a shout rising in my throat for the play to “Get on with it!” But I kept quiet because this show seemed unlikely to play out according to the needs of anyone but the writer and director.
Perhaps because this is a play that deals with music, Mr. Michetti has placed pop songs in all the public spaces, classical music in private homes, and Bruno Louchouarn’s original muzak wherever. It’s the first time at Boston Court I’ve felt like I was at a shopping mall. Well, not completely like: by the end, when all the actors stood in a line and tossed moral and theme wrap-ups at the crowd, I couldn’t buy any of it.
photos by Ed Krieger
Theatre @Boston Court in Pasadena
scheduled to end on November 11, 2012
for tickets, visit Boston Court