I'm Bleeding All Over the Place: A Living History Tour

Theater, Experimental
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

I’m Bleeding All Over the Place: Theater review by Helen Shaw

Even if you’re a longtime fan of the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, this bite-size work from Brooke O’Harra may not satisfy your appetite. Barely an hour long, the lovably shaggy I’m Bleeding All Over the Place attempts, in O’Harra’s words, to “investigate the site and the moment of a performance event as a living political space.” Even such meaty ambition won’t extend or complicate Bleeding; academic language can’t conceal its lightness and sweetness.

The piece is subtitled a “living history tour,” meaning we traipse through the Ellen Stewart Theatre. In the lobby, Zavé Martohardjono appears as O’Harra, welcoming us and relaying casual musings about fantasies of violence. Other actors also play O’Harra—chanting “Brooke, Brooke, Brooke!” in the Brendan Connelly–penned dance number at the end—and this elision between the directorial “I” and the performative “we” sits at Bleeding’s heart.

The project is deeply collaborative: O'Harra and Casey Llewellyn mainly wrote it, though other playwrights (Erin Courtney, Kristen Kosmas and Heidi Schreck) contributed dialogues, tiny exchanges between irritated lovers. Downtown Pucks like Becca Blackwell, Greg Mehrten and Tanya Selveratnam whisk us through bizarro versions of them—for example, six actors repeat a couple's passive-aggressive back-and-forth (“I just said that a minute ago!”) while blood drips over Hye Young Chyun's head. Is O'Harra's diverse cast queering horror clichés? Why is O'Harra's real-life partner the artist Sharon Hayes performing as well? No time to ponder! We zoom off to the next quick scene.

The experiment seems to be miniaturization. How small can a performance be? Actors pull shower curtains around us to create microvenues; the aggressive minidialogues dissolve in an adorable final song. Most shows drag, but I found myself wishing this one would slow down and tell us where all the heady investigations have actually gone. O’Harra has big, thorny issues in mind, but thinking takes time—and here the deliberate smallness becomes cuteness. The director herself is the play’s main subject, and her sly brilliance shines at every moment. But while she holds a mirror up to her nature, the show only provides a hasty peek.—Helen Shaw

Ellen Stewart Theatre (Off-Off Broadway). Created and directed by Brooke O’Harra. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr. No intermission.



Event website: http://www.lamama.org
Event phone: 646-430-5374
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