Monday, January 12, 2009

Under the Radar - "Sight is the sense that dying people tend to lose first"

Photo/Tim Etchells

If genes--physical code--make up what we are, then can fragmented thoughts--mental code--make up who we are? Sight is the sense that dying people tend to lose first is an interesting experiment, executed by Tim Etchells's rough assemblage of short, simple sentences (facts, opinions, thoughts) being processed through Jim Fletcher's body and voice. However, as with most experiments, it is rigidly controlled, to the point where it hardly seems as if there is anything natural left, and the artistic choice to restrict movement and emotion results in a dead recitation that, while abstractly funny, embodies nothing.

"Motel rooms are too small," he'll say, and then follow it with, "Sometimes bridges fall down." Don't be misled by what appear to be chunks of meat in the text--"One deception leads to another"--for while there's an acceleration, there's never a climax or resolution. It's an impressive feat of memorization, but that's hardly what an actor wants to be remembered for. However, because Mr. Fletcher has not been allowed a personality for this show, we can only admire the technical aspects of the production. And even that's troubling, for the craft of this show hardly need Fletcher or even, really, Etchell's writing--any sliced-up stream-of-consciousness will do.

"Anything can be said, using words" is one of the lines. That's true. But our genes are not what create us, nor are our thoughts what define us. No, what makes us, ultimately, are our limits: without those, there is nothing to define.

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