nytheatre.com review by Robert Weinstein
August 15, 2007
The chat room in Theatre503 and Post Script Theatre's production of All Alone is a dark and dirty place, a place where debauched minds throw on false personalities to lure innocent people out of their isolation and commit despicable acts of violence and cruelty. These reprehensible acts and impulses transform the chat room from a place to connect into a landscape of perversion where the worst of human nature can take root and flourish. The events depicted in the show are not always easy to watch or comfortable to experience, but All Alone is a forceful, confusing, and infuriating piece of theatre that deserves to be seen for the risks it dares to take and for the ones it fails to achieve.
All Alone tells the story of two men and an incredibly disturbing chat room session. Man A begins the show straddling what turns out to be a dead woman. He wears white underwear, masturbates frequently, and enjoys creating violent variations on nursery rhymes. Man B starts the show in underwear, too, but his are black and far more stylish. He brushes his teeth for close to 15 minutes and when he finally rinsed, I wondered what deteriorating effect it had on his enamel. While never implicitly stated, both men are actually two sides of the same person, with Man A acting as a kind of Id and Man B the Ego. Man A seems to provide the impulse for Man B's actions (Man B gets the actual chatting duties) and the results of Man B's actions provide reactions in Man A which provide more impulses. The roles reverse from time to time but this circular relationship propels the piece forward and seems to push the boundaries of their collective perversion toward points of no return.
And where is the Superego during all of this? That particular personality part lies dead on the stage: desecrated, danced with, and spat on.
Gene David Kirk's script is full of inventive wordplay and rhythmic shifts. Jessica Beck's direction allows her actors—Andrew Barron, Matthew Flacks and Maggie-Kate Coleman—the freedom necessary to experience the effects of their characters' basest instincts and the freedom to delve into what the show's postcard describes as "the deepest horror of consciousness." But the freedom and exploration come at a price: All sense of character disappears periodically, as do the sense of space and time. Characters sometimes act but fail to react, or seem to react to unknown stimulus. And the relentless pace rarely stops to let any of the characters and the production breathe. The result threatens and sometimes succeeds in distancing the audience right out of comprehension.
All Alone is a powerful and unflinching look at the truly ugly aspects of loneliness and isolation. But as I walked away from the theatre, I wished that Beck had forced more focus onto the proceedings and allowed the more humane aspects of the characters, the hopeful selves that became these damaged creatures, to have their say.