Collaboraction. By Anthony Moseley and Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman. Directed by Moseley and Jeremy Wechsler. With ensemble cast. 1hr 30mins; no intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
Collaboraction artistic director Anthony Moseley lost his father to cancer 13 years ago. This new devised work, in which he’s placed himself at the center of a 14-member cast, co-written by Moseley and Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman and co-directed by Moseley and Jeremy Wechsler, is heartfelt and often affecting in the sequences that deal directly with that experience. Moseley relives the excruciating but also cherished hours spent at his dad’s hospital bedside, worrying through multiple surgeries; he reacts with relatable bewilderment when one of his father’s doctors rattles off a head-spinning medical update followed by the impossibly inane query: “Do you have any questions?”
Who doesn’t have questions about this insidious disease (if that’s even the right word) and its possible effect on one’s self or one’s family? But it’s in several rather unkempt forays into those questions that the piece starts to veer off course.
Moseley describes This Is Not a Cure for Cancer as “not a play,” but “an interactive, experiential, live art installation.” That begins to feel like a hedge against the piece’s indecision regarding its own identity: Is it a loving tribute to Moseley’s father, who emerges as an impressive, unwaveringly supportive figure who died too soon but lived a full life? Is it a real investigation into the Internet-proliferating world of alternative therapies and Big Pharma conspiracy theories? Is it a sober examination of grief and survivorship, or a life-affirming paean to partying while we can?
With cast members welcoming us to the setting of “Anthony Moseley’s Brain,” a tiresome framing device involving Moseley chatting with his dentist and regular diversions into audience interactions (with cancer-themed parodies of classic game shows like The Price Is Right and Family Feud), This Is Not a Cure for Cancer is in need of greater outside guidance. For all its sincere emotion, the work is more sure of what it’s not than what it is.