nytheatre.com review by Nicole Watson
June 15, 2007
Everything is a matter of perspective. Tunnel Vision, a solo piece written and performed by Carla Stangenberg and directed by Mercedes Murphy, examines the fine line between healthy introspection and myopia. Set on a stalled NYC subway, the play first introduces us to Julie, who is on her way to a job interview. Clutching a yellow post-it-noted text, referred to only as "the book," Julie is doing her best not to fall into the world of self-doubt and fear. "Doubt is the enemy," she proclaims. Should she waver from her determined, positive path, Julie opens "the book" in search of a phrase that will restore her confidence, or rifles through a stack of note cards detailing the number of rejections that Dr. Seuss and Ayn Rand received prior to their success.
Following Julie, we are introduced to an older Southern gentlemen whose good book is the Bible. Both characters are in search of a path, "the path," perhaps to something better. In the voice of the gentleman, it is clear that Stangenberg has a propensity for the poetic.
Stangenberg plays several characters in this piece including a news reporter from the "Department of News." Videos offering news clips serve as interruptions to Julie's meditations. However, in this world, no news is news. Journalism serves to distort rather than present any sense of reality, a questionable thing if perspective is all we've got. Tunnel Vision, while pointing to the importance of perspective, highlights American short-sightedness and self-interest. The journalist reports that bacon and breast implants are actually beneficial. Breast implants lead to longevity as buxom woman are more likely to find rich men with adequate health care. "The bigger the better. The tighter the sweater," he states at the end of his newscast.
The use of the videocast, created by Katurah Hutcheson and projected on the back wall of the theatre, is in stark contrast to the dark, minimalist set, complementing Julie's musing on the external and internal worlds. Overall the piece is solid. Stangenberg gives a fine performance. However, in spite of all the appropriate social and political commentary, the piece fails to move. Perhaps that is the point, as the piece starts on a stalled subway. "The path"—to nirvana, God, happiness, or whatever you want to call it—means nothing if we are stuck.