Friday, August 21, 2009

Notes from Justine Lambert on ASK SOMEONE ELSE, GOD

Notes From Justine
Ask Someone Else, God
Rehearsal Observation

On Tuesday, I witnessed heart wrenching scenes between Husband and Wife, punctuated by extreme comedy between Father and Son.

Man, I love abstract theatre, but it sure is hard. Many “experimental” scripts aren’t. What they are is confusing, unclear and at worst meaningless. Don’t get me wrong; complete abstraction can be brilliant (Richard Foreman), but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about trying to use surrealism to say something. That’s what Ask Someone Else, God is for me.

From the start I thought this marriage of Playwright and Director might be magic. I dared not hope too hard that the timing and circumstances would come together to make this project come to fruition. The skills and clarity of Shari blended with the surrealism and depth of Ken could be such a beautiful thing I could only pray (nice choice here, don’t you think?) that it might work out. Miracle of Miracles, it did.

So what I’m beginning to see emerge in rehearsals is that thing I continually seek: important observation about human nature and emotion told truly using theatre, not merely people talking (not that that can’t be brilliant-Williams, Miller, O’Neill). The stage offers a different medium for exploring this human world of ours, and I glory in the tricks of the trade. Realism mixed with experimentation is pure theatrical joy. This mix of material and director seems to be toying with this combination in ways that tickle and touch me.

The Jonah story here is about a person disheartened, discouraged, and beaten down by life, work and society, not to mention the themes of fatherhood and responsibility that run through the piece. Jonah is dealing with all of this by having a nervous breakdown, but instead of a therapist he has GOD. Yes, it’s Her, the Supreme Being, and she’s chatting with Jonah. Is it in his head? Not sure. But it’s certainly in the theatre. It’s jumping around in time and using wonderful simple transitional techniques to create both story and place without being a slave to “how.” Things happen. HOW is skirted, toyed with, and sometimes ignored - but never casually. We (the theatre audience, people who love this stuff) know we are in strong hands with Shari and Ken. They know how to bring it home, sew it together and make it resonate, sometimes with solid clear answers and deep human meaning, sometimes with more questions ... but always with purpose.

Justine Lambert
Artistic Director
The Looking Glass Theatre
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