Friday, July 11, 2008

Washington City Paper: Fringe & Purge - ‘Metro: In the State of Mind’:

Neither a play nor a dance, the performance is an attempt to evoke the DC Metro. As the event begins, performers wind their way into the space: first, a pair of teenaged girls in school uniforms; then a sweating Marine repeating “I see the enemy everywhere” over and over; then a long-haired rock dude, sort of a live-action version of Otto from The Simpsons. The stage gradually accumulates still more characters, including a couple one might at first take for Fringe latecomers awkwardly taking their seats, but who turn out to be part of the show.

To say the performance has a plot would be to overstate the facts, but what is discernable is that everyone talks on their cell phones (they must all have Verizon!), there is a long train delay, leaving the passengers restless, and a father boards the train with his twelve-year-old daughter, who seemingly gets off the train when she’s not supposed to. As the piece progresses, the atmosphere grows more nightmarish, as a man wearing orange tape dispensers around his waist belts out “Happy Days are Here Again” with a booming operatic voice.

But I am giving this piece too much credit. It’s not at all clear that much of anything came off as was intended. Toward the end, a character best interpreted as the train conductor moved into the audience to talk to the stage manager, and I overheard them talking about sound tech problems. Is this part of the show, like the late-arriving couple? Soon the performance ended without the slightest inkling of resolution. We in the audience sat awkwardly, wondering if something else was going to happen–that couple was sitting house left, as if waiting for the other performers to return to the stage. Finally, someone was brave enough to clap. We applauded. The train conductor came out to explain apologetically that the director had been in the hospital, and they’d burned a new CD today but it hadn’t worked. Things had gone wrong. The other performers, presumably mortified by the collapse, never retook the stage to make a curtain call.

12:34 PM