Thursday, July 12, 2007

PLAY: "Doppelganger"

If one buys into the scientific and stressed-out speech of Simon Heath's Doppelganger, then one cannot be sure of anything: in the great infinite binary, everything is both a one and a zero. But Emanuel Bocchieri's direction is bogged down in spastic direction and randomly generated cues (literally -- the show uses a technology designed to activate video and sound based on how actors move). There’s one thing the audience can be sure of: Doppelganger is a mess, consistent only in being dim and haphazard.

Our hero is a nervous nerd by the name of George (Jermaine Chambers): he's early to work so as to not feel claustrophobic in the elevator, and he's reliant on his boss, Frank (Matt Hanley) for tales of the thrills that are absent in his life. George is a watcher, not a doer, and he is just another modern human attempting to avoid pain by quantifying problems. But life is more erratic than that, and this is where Doppelganger's random array of multimedia effects, paper-scattered floor, and screaming file cabinets work. Despite George's careful planning, his world is shattered in 4.6 seconds -- the amount of time for his boss to fall forty stories to his death -- and he meets Marcia (Heather Carmichael), both Frank's lover, and the woman at the other end of those 4.6 seconds, a woman now traumatized by vertigo.

Rather than ground itself in connections, Doppelganger prefers to analyze from the fringe, using voiceovers and video clips that make the show as personal as a PowerPoint presentation and the text as comprehensible as an art-house film. Instead of exploring George's coming out of his shell to take--gasp!--drugs, the entire show seems like a bad acid trip, or the product of one, in which Mr. Heath looked in a mirror and looked up the word “doppelganger.”

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