Tuesday, April 24, 2007

PLAY: "Losing Something"

Losing Something isn't just the first American play to use the Eyeliner System to mirror actors into a floating void of physical space, and to use the Isadora technology to fine-tune the timing of holograms enough to let them interact with onstage actors. It's also the first play that's managed to make philosophy into a metaphor for emotion. It is not the first play to deal with 9/11, nor is it the first play to lose plot in the complexity of narrative: it's just the first to look so good doing so.

Kevin Cunningham's play is hard to follow, and harder to relate to: our unnamed everyman (Aldo Perez) ceases to double for the audience when he screws a baby-fetish prostitute who straddles him with her diaper and injects him with heroin. The work is sexed to the point of distraction (most conversations take place with actors bound up in one another), and everything projected on the backdrop (from close-up bloody body parts to neon-orange bubbles) is an exercise in further dissociation. Ambient sounds rustle through the theater like drugs through the bloodstream, and even the ideas are transient, mostly, and out-of-focus, like the older, holographic self of our everyman, shuffling in and out of the scene. But this sense of removal and the separatism of even the actors from their own bodies is a testament to the play's theme and title: losing something.

Like elegiac poetry, gossamer ghosts float from the corners of the stage, on snarls of smoke and tangled in spider-web dreams, to torment our hero. Is his friend Daniel really dead, surviving 9/11 only to finish the job later with a succumbing suicide? Or is it our anonymous protagonist who has killed himself and who now plagues the dreams of Daniel? The thoughts of such a fractured consensual reality (is the blue you see the same as the blue I see?) clash with the constant contortions of the sex-crazed phantoms, and the show's gravity is more like inertia that it would like to acknowledge. I come away from the show confused by its beauty and impressed by its technology, but I am not found, and the show is still Losing Something.

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