This is a Play About Artists
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nytheatre.com review by Maura Kelley
August 9, 2013
A scene from This is a Play About Artists
The title, This is a Play About Artists, might throw you, because this play is about relationships. It centers on “Narrator”, a performance artist played by the multi-talented Ginger Kearns. She is in the throes of a painful break-up from “Poet”, Michael Kingsbaker. “Painter”, played by professional Illustrator A.E. Kieren and “Musician”, Shane La Rue, a musician/composer completes the cast. You may notice that everyone is an artist of some sort. One highlight was Kieren’s live-action mural painting performed throughout the duration of the show. My friend quickly whispered while watching him paint,” He’s good!”
The play has a plethora of elements and styles: absurdity, flashback scenes, real-time scenes, poetry, music and video. You may find that following an emotionally harrowing scene you’re surprised with human puppets or the journey of a snail. I would call the structure of the play similar to “a play within in a play”, however, this show is more like “a performance art piece within a performance art piece”. The commitment, the acting and emotional connection between Kearns and Kingsbaker is the glue that holds this show together and makes it interesting. There is a strong sense of history between the pair. You completely “buy” that these two had a past relationship and are currently still hurting from the break-up. Kearns, who is also the writer, goes deep beneath the layers and adeptly jumps back and forward in time to varying degrees of emotion. The writing is strong because the story is strong. The language is poetic and heightened in some instances and funny and stupid (in a good way) in the next.
Nicole Rosner, the director keeps the show moving forward but slows down enough to allow the tender moments to land. I imagine working on this piece would have to be an extremely collaborative process. The hard and specific work by all is evident.
You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy this show. If you’re currently trying to get over a break up, you might learn something.