nytheatre.com review by Mark DeFrancis
May 18, 2007
Simulacra: A Modern Myth is ambitious to say the least. It takes everything from MySpace to the Greek gods and somehow manages to fuse them into a sleek, frenetic production about self-identity, materialism, and mass media.
Dawn Black (Mikki Jordan) awakes half-clothed in a department store dressing room with no idea who she is. Armed with nothing but her conscious mirror image (Adam Laupus), she begins to construct her identity with only her material possessions as clues. Mikki Jordan is, from the start, a warm and captivating presence, especially in these early scenes as Dawn cluelessly fumbles around her life.
As in any good myth, the gods take an interest in the outcome of Dawn's quest and enter the machine in the form of Aphrodite (Mark Lindberg), a super-sexual self-help infomercial, and Ares (Alexandra Henrikson), a macho monster formed of anger and video games. The two deities, acting as extreme personalities, take turns twisting Dawn and her spoiled neighbor Charlie (Ben Hobbs) as they all embark through the media of Internet and television, literally trying to define her through possessions, friends, employment, and anything but herself. The play reaches a feverish climax, as Dawn must choose to accept her past or risk a new identity.
There are so many places a work such as Simulacra could go wrong in performance, but creator/director Gerrit Turner finds a way to nimbly take his characters through a complex mesh of modern intellectual thoughts without ever letting the piece drown in psycho-babble as so many similar shows do. The ending, however, is a disappointment, as the play chooses to wash its hands of many valuable observations. Nonetheless, the performances of Jordan and Lindberg, whose charismatic goddess is nothing short of engrossing, combined with a smattering of laughs and a truckload of provocative thoughts make Simulacra a well-spent night at the theatre.