Open: 07/02/09- Close: 07/17/09
Thank You, But Our Princess Is In Another Castle|
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Lauren Wissot
As delightfully elusive as its title Eddie Kim's four machinima theater pieces that make up an engaging show at The Brick Theater substitute gamers and virtual worlds for actors and theatrical performance. According to the program the first half is comprised of "Neo In Liberty City," which involves an Xbox 360 running Grand Theft Auto 4 and samples of Alvin Lucier's "I am Sitting in a Room" and "The Matrix," and "The Four Factions," which is based on Samuel Beckett's "Quad" and uses five laptops running Warcraft 3. From there it's on to "Komachi," which is four laptops running Warcraft set to Kim's adaptation of Kwanami's "Sotoba Komachi," and finally "Niobe," Kim's adaptation of Ted Hughes' "Tales from Ovid" performed on three Xbox consoles running Halo 3 (and the most literal narrative of the pieces with bows and arrows replaced by robots with submachine guns though the text remains the same).
Of course if angels come to mind at the mention of the word "Halo" the above paragraph may as well have been written in Klingon. But the beauty of "Princess" lies in the staging of Kim and his five young collaborators (and when I say young I mean young - some of these teens look like they might be up past their bedtimes) who all sit at their computers onstage backs towards us as they navigate the virtual world that unfolds on the big white screen in front of them and us. Indeed, the intense focus of Lucas Thompson, Tim Tully, Charlie Shields, Maxime Olshan-Cantin and Connor Sedlacek, whose "instruments" are laptops and Xbox 360s, wherein another not-so-distant era they would have been drums and guitars, is every bit as thrilling as Neo's motorcycle ride. As is the unpredictability and spontaneity of the players (paralleled in the loss of control due to the actions and reactions of real-time, remote online players who we'll never see). One gamer might get up and walk around, another head for the lobby, seemingly unaware that there's even an audience still laughing at the antics going on onscreen. Even as the situations are choreographed with the players referring to written scripts throughout, the element of surprise is something they're all completely comfortable with. (And this sense of anything-can-happen risk is a much-needed antidote to the stodgy summer theater, as of late.)
Perhaps the best way to think of Kim's production is as a 60s happening for the digital age. With live, real-time composed music courtesy of OxygenStar and Kim relaying directions such as "Wait till he's logged off" during the show "Princess" gives the lie to gaming as a lone pursuit, presenting virtual interaction bound up with flesh-and-blood theatrical collaboration.
Brick Theater : 575 Metropolitan Ave.