ALIEN EVEN THEN
nytheatre.com review by Robin Reed
Temporary distortion’s Alien Even Then is a testament to the
essence of live theater: experiencing something in the moment. The
minute you walk into the La Tea Theatre you get a sneaking suspicion
that you’re in for a ride. Where you’re going is not as important as how
it’s going to make you feel along the way. You’re locked into a
not-so-temporarily distorted barrage of moments that will stick with you
long after your exit.
August 15, 2002
Writer/director/designer Kenneth Sean Collins deftly paints his eerie dream world with red neon and dim light bulbs set sparingly about the stage. On one lamp hangs a picture of a man, and on another, a picture of a woman. You know that soon the people in these pictures will be haunting you. Three big red boxes with leather straps are precisely set and await usage. The lights dim further, and the ride inside Collins’ mind begins.
The piece, with text and characters loosely based on Kafka’s The Trial, centers around the guilt-ridden K. We find K "suddenly at the edge of nothingness" under constant surveillance and plagued by "the questions that always remain." The perfectly dense soundscape, a blend of text and tediously familiar sounds that have been slowly and deliberately contorted by M. Gregor Filip, invites full sensory participation. You can feel the sound, and feel the guilt that goes with it feeling so good.
All three performers exceed the challenge of this piece with supreme subtlety. They are literally confined to using nothing but their posture and the whites of their eyes as their prerecorded words are amplified over them. Marty Lau gives K an everyman-on-the-brink-of-insanity quality with an understated and precise restraint. The physical obstacles of the piece didn’t seem to phase Karin Linner, who found graceful movement throughout. And the chillingly tender vocal performance by Stacey Bare took me right back to that nightclub scene in David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive; her sweetly creepy song is one I won’t soon forget.
If you want to fully experience what is FringeNYC, get yourself to the very next showing of Alien Even Then.