Antrobus and Gone
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
January 27, 2012
Ian W. Hill’s aptly-named company Gemini Collision Works presents two of his plays at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg.
In the first piece, Antrobus, a family that has survived some kind of apocalypse sorts through their shared knowledge in an effort to recreate and organize recent history. The old Grandfather (Bill Weeden) and equally old Granduncle (Michael McKim ) proudly spout conflicting platitudes. They quarrel about their memories of what happened and what should be preserved for posterity. The youngest family member, Junior (Brian Miskell), is clutching a sheaf of papers and photos, reminiscent of cut-up text books, Life and National Geographic magazines and the like. After each breakthrough in the conversation, he reshuffles his papers to present a more correct version of events. This usually follows a statement like “that was after we got rid of gender.” The arguments threaten to split this group apart, but where would they go?
And who is “Antrobus”? It’s the name of the family from Thornton Wilder’s The Skin Of Our Teeth, a sprawling history of the human race. Hill’s piece provocatively gives viewers the chance to work out a true sequence of history, as condensed as we want it to be.
The next piece, Gone, is a conversation between two stylish, successful-looking ladies (Alyssa Simon and Ivanna Cullinan) at a café. For the most part, it is a pleasant, 40-minute conversation. It is entirely made up of mixed metaphors, snippets of well-known poems, and a few vulgar phrases. This constructed, mutually intelligible language is very amusing to experience. Like a good Ionesco play or Borge routine, it shows how we are imprisoned by language and how our tone and body language can convey our ideas just as well. A waiter (Michael McKim) occasionally approaches the table to try to assist the ladies, but has no hope of penetrating the conversation and turns away. The ladies reminisce, and become sad. A few times in the conversation, one lady asks “Gone?”, to which the reply is “Gone!” By the time this exchange happens thrice, the meaning has poignantly changed. This is a lunch date that not everyone will survive.
Hill also directed this evening. His bittersweet, cerebral style succeeds admirably. Veteran costume designer Karen Flood contributes a diverse wardrobe that conveys the more unhinged mode of Antrobus and the flashy feel of Gone.