nytheatre.com review by Anthony Pennino
Don't go to Eva, TEMPORARY distortion's offering at this
year's FringeNYC, for an easy and fun night of theatre. The company's
operating principle seems to call for audience members to put their
intellects on hold and open up their individual consciousness to the
meditative and minimalist poetry that writer, director, and designer
Kenneth Sean Collins offers. Why Collins chooses to focus his company's
resources and energy on a piece in large part devoted to Eva Braun is,
however, a bit of a mystery.
August 15, 2003
On one level, Eva largely succeeds. Going to this show is a bit like going to church. If you think it, then it all falls apart. But if you feel it, then you find yourself being carried by the inner harmony of the moment. And the moment Collins provides is often lyrical, elegiac, and a little disturbing. Not to say any of this makes it effortless for the audience. There is an old saying that it takes just as much art to be a good audience member as it does to be a theatre practitioner. Everyone walking into the Wollman Auditorium to see Eva will need to be a little in touch with his or her inner artist. Even if you think you're ready, you might not be.
At the start, Stacey Bare and Lorraine Mattox—playing the two Evas (Braun and Hesse) —stand almost immobile in two neon-lit boxes. Bare and Mattox are excellent actresses who manage to create the world of the play while speaking in essentially a monotone.
There is one aspect of this play that made it very difficult for me to "experience" the production in a more Zen-like state. It is about Eva Braun, Hitler's extremely dim-witted gouma. Collins and company go through a great many contortions to give Braun depth and perception—much more than she had in real life—but all of these efforts feel imposed and arbitrary. We really do not learn much about Braun. It seems as if TEMPORARY distortion picked a personage who would shock and stuffed her full of ideas that she never had. If they had picked Sylvia Plath, then she could just as easily have had the same lines. This decision keeps Eva earth-bound when it strives to take flight.