THE FELDMAN DYNAMIC
nytheatre.com review by Julie Blumenthal
A family—a real one—eats a meal—a real one—in front of you. That's
it. Yet the phenomena caused in my brain by being assigned
The Feldman Dynamic made me wonder: was it even necessary to
see the show in order to review it? It seemed such a
sociological exercise that actually watching it happen was
beside the point. But just as I said to a friend who wailed,
"It's been DONE!" to my mention of this and other
Happenings-cum-reality-TV-shows happening in various spots this
year: You had to be there.
August 15, 2003
So how do you review such a show? Like life, watching the Feldmans was alternately discomfiting, utterly boring, pointlessly funny, comfortingly familiar, strangely moving. I was put off by a few moments that felt artificial, disappointed because I wasn't seeing the real, unvarnished Feldmans; imagining a pre-show discussion: "Be sure to mention (X). And we should fight, because that's dramatic." And then I had to admit: what's more real than that? We are endlessly worrying about how people see us, choosing how we portray ourselves. Even the moments that felt "stagey" were, I realized, as truthful as anything else. Put a person in front of a group of people and they will either shy away, or perform; such are the social animals we are. Any actor will tell you most acting training is "un"-training, and theater is, strangely, more "real" than reality. How often in daily life do we see the depths and heights we see on stage? Isn't that why we go to the theater? Of course I wanted to feel as if I were a fly on a wall, instead of in a theater, watching the Feldmans perform themselves for me. Did I, voyeuristically, long to see them emotionally naked? Sure. Would that have been real, for that to occur here? No way.
In the end, all I can say is: Was it theater? No. Did it feel real? Yes. As one of my companions aptly put it: "It's also the Audience Dynamic." The most interesting show taking place here is the one your own brain puts on, placed in this simultaneously most odd and most mundane of situations. You may learn more about yourself, and about people in general, than you will about the Feldmans. If you want to get "the inside story", watch so-called reality TV. But if you want to be reminded of the dance of veils involved in being humans in front of each other, see The Feldman Dynamic.