ODD MAN OUT
nytheatre.com review by Becky London
August 13, 2006
ODD MAN OUT is odd in the best way; strange, unusual and intriguing. The show is comprised of two delightful acts of short pieces, all performed in masks. The tone is variously moving, eerie, familiar, haunting, and mostly funny. I hesitate to describe ODD MAN OUT in more detail because part of the fun is in the discovery.
But I can say that the actors—John Devine, John Early, Trish Moalla, Wesley Paine, and Andrew Swanson—are excellent mask performers. They absolutely embody the unique personality of each mask. Director/creator John Holleman wisely delivers the luxurious pace necessary for the audience to experience the uncanny union of masks and performers.
The masks (created by Laura Miller, Doug Berky, Taryn Williams, and Lena Lucas from an idea by Sarah Yazadian, Megan Stillman, and Nicole Southwell) are superb. Each new piece refreshes the eye with a new mask style; some basically realistic with satisfyingly chunky exaggeration, some evocatively abstract, all wonderful.
The pieces are very entertaining, although a few go on too long and feel a bit made-up on the spot. But for me, simply watching the performers work with the masks was so delightful I didn't really care. Sometimes the performers talk, sometimes they are silent, and sound effects, off stage voices and original music (by Morton Gould, David Larsen, and a sound mix by Sam Frazee) plus selections from various other composers very cleverly complement and comment on the action.
The overall tone of the production is casual and lighthearted. Holleman himself tears the tickets and hands out programs printed on the back of paper masks, offering markers to decorate them for those who "feel creative." The first mask-clad performers wander out while Holleman is still chatting with the incoming patrons. Any uneasiness about "mask work" being too esoteric is completely put to rest from the word go.
So if you enjoy "mask work" excellently performed, or if you've never seen it and would like to experience it at its best, or if you'd just like to be entertained, check out ODD MAN OUT.