In his notes to the audience, Christopher Weston, director of "It Goes...BOOM!" writes, "We began this process four months ago, with no concept, no script, nothing except the idea of time."
After seeing this latest production from the Brooklyn Theater Company, now at Present Company Theatorium on the Lower East Side, one has the impression that not much has changed. The play still has no concept and no script. And the idea of time has turned into a waste of time.
Although Antonio Rodriguez gets the writing credit for this mess, Weston claims the production is "one possible result of months of collaboration." Apparently, some time during those months, the idea of "time" was narrowed down to speed, "the acceleration of everything in a world plagued by hurry-sickness."
My, my, what an original concept!
But staleness and a tendency toward cliches are not the worst in "It Goes...BOOM!," named after the primordial bang, one supposes. Convinced they’ve gotten hold of something tremendously original, Weston and his ensemble use every trick in the book to prove to the audience that they don’t need to follow any of the conventions of drama to create "theater."
The play is a series of vignettes that employ techniques from silent movies, vaudeville, television commercials, the Borscht Belt, Las Vegas and multimedia shows to trace the evolution of mankind from the Stone Age to the just plain stoned.
The vignettes are introduced and analyzed by Analisa Posterna (Jenny Penny Curry), a young woman wearing a slinky evening dress and a year’s supply of makeup, who is suspended in a makeshift swing.
On a balcony high above the stage sits Drexler Whitestar (Rodriguez) who appears to be a combination producer and mad scientist executing a kind of "techno-rapture" in which technology takes over the world, replacing humans at the top of the evolutionary chain.
There are, of course, the usual snipes at the pope, consumerism, the family, you name it, and you’ll probably find it if you care to look. But why bother? Most of the dialogue seems vaguely related to the automatic writing made famous by the surrealists and later abandoned, or else parodies of writing not important enough to remember.
Weston claims he and his colleagues were influenced by Stewart Brand’s book "The Clock of the Long Now," the writings of physicist Stephen Hawking and Zen Buddhist philosophy.
They might have done better reading Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill, or, if they’ve got a penchant for the absurd, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, before embarking on the serious business of producing a play.
Good plays are filled with ideas. But they also have discernable plots, characters and dramatic action that carry the theme. They are not the undisciplined meandering of adolescent minds.
When the lights came up and it appeared the play was over, at first I thought I’d let this one slide. I’ve done it before - not review a play that was a mistake from beginning to end. But then I remembered a play by Rodriguez that I’d reviewed last May, "Tigers Through Veils Kissing." I had called that play, staged at Underhill 190 in Prospect Heights, "a precious combination of creativity, originality and sheer talent that is both breathtaking and inspiring."
And I decided a writer with such talent deserved more than silence. Rodriguez needs to be told to stop the self-indulgence and get back to the self-examination that produces really great work.
When, and if, he follows this advice, he need not look far for actors.
Curry and the three other actors who accompany Rodriguez, Frederick Silo Gunsch, Ryan Shogren and Cassandra Weston, all have a refreshing energy and enthusiasm that might well translate into some serious dramatic or comedic acting. This writer believes all that talent could be put to much better use.
Doubtless, there will be people who enjoy "It Goes...BOOM!" Science fiction aficionados 25 years old and under may get some of the inside jokes that this writer did not. But plays are not written or produced for those few in-the-know; they should be accessible to all of us who want to know.
"It Goes...BOOM" plays through May 5, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets are $12. Present Company Theatorium is located at 198 Stanton St. between Attorney and Ridge streets in Manhattan. For reservations, call (212) 420-8877.