Friday, July 20, 2007

PLAY: East to Edinburgh: "An Age of Angels"

Before he heads to Edinburgh, Mark Soper needs to learn to sell himself a little better. His play, An Age of Angels is populated with so many eccentrics (child-watching perverts, pant-shitting nerds, alien-obsessed loners) that it's hard to get past the foulness to enjoy his characters. The thin, multi-threaded plot doesn't help either: the show begins with the sounds of children playing, then sirens, then bullets, but it isn't until the fifth character (an ignorant urban hick) talks about trying to get a "goddamn soccer ball" that we understand what's going on. The point of the play is to show how the little things add up, but the lack of self-contained arcs for the narrators makes them less than tangential: they're phantasmal.

Soper's other issue is his language: would even the smartest dweeb at an elementary school use the phrase "perfect Pynchonesque parabola" to describe the arc of a soccer ball he's reflexively kicked? His dumb characters work because they leave off with the staccato rhythms and beat-poetry descriptions of minutia, but the show all too often seems like a continuation of more of the same. It's also, quite frankly, terrible for a few of the segments: Soper looks and sounds like a combination of Robin Williams and Lee Tergesen, but without the energy or sincerity of either. As a director and producer, Ines Wurth should've given her star a transfusion of coffee: this would've cleaned up the stalling costume-changing transitions. Still, I give Soper credit for memorizing such technically roundabout dialog, and, to the eight people who left the performance after ten minutes, you should know the show improved. (Not enough for me to recommend it, however.)

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