Do Not Do This Ever Again
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
July 9, 2008
Do Not Do This Ever Again is an intriguing landscape of multimedia expression. It is not single story but rather many pieces of several stories. It is divided into four "movements," beginning with a segment of dueling disconnected dialogue and then moving into a section made up of mostly one voice doing a long monologue. The third movement is an "operetta" that uses dialogue, music, dance, and transparencies placed on an overhead projector to tell the story. The final movement combines the same sort of dialogue as in the first with music, dance, and a slide show of simple line drawings. Taken together the show feels like a performance art piece that has been shown a lot of love by its creators.
Did I understand everything I saw? Well...no, not exactly. The vast majority of the play is abstract details of abstractions but it's these details that actually make the show worthwhile. There are moments of lucidity that act as signposts for you to reconnect with what's happening and there are so many golden lines and gems of ideas flying past you, but still I found it difficult to make a lasting connection. There's really nothing to latch onto or care about. However, I really enjoyed the language of the play. Playwright Karinne Keithley paints a beautiful collage of words and ideas. Her script is often funny and poignant. There's a lot going on—though it is a bit too much to swallow in real time. What this show has plenty of is atmosphere and, disjointed as it may be, it holds your attention.
Director Maria Goyanes gives us a relatively clear vision of this dreamy world. There are no set pieces, so Goyanes is free to move the actors into every conceivable position on the deep stage of the Ohio Theatre. Keithley's choreography combines modern dance with some ballet and this adds a more alluring intangibility to the action. Her video design, created with Sara Walsh and Jeff Larson, adds yet another layer to this crazy collage of art forms. The slide show with the line drawings sort of creates the illusion that it is animated. The sound design (by Keithley as well) is very well timed and chosen though it could use more music. Eric Southern's lighting design works perfectly for this show.
I enjoyed all of the performances. The ensemble is entirely committed. The dancers, Ivy Baldwin, Katy Pyle and Lawrence Cassella, are fantastic. They definitely drew me into the show. The actors, Tricia Rodley, Benjamin Pelteson, Aimee Phelan-Deconinick, Andrew Dinwiddle, and Jay Smith, all do a great job. Each brings what seems to be a very natural little piece of themselves to their performances. Smith nails his monologue and brings the show just what it needs at the time. Phelan-Deconinick's voice and presence is also unforgettable.
There's a lot to take in here and there was a lot that flew past me, but I found that the moments I could grasp were so delightful and rich that I still felt satisfied when I left.