Mammoth: A De-Extinction Love Story
Time Out says
Mammoth: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Adam R. Burnett’s trippy paleo fable contains lovely ingredients: an allusive structure that ignores causality, a strong cast adding spice. But Mammoth: A De-Extinction Love Story lacks protein; its ideas are vague, and much of the content stays hidden, trapped in stage directions that Burnett himself can’t realize.
As with other Burnett pieces, connections between scenes are associative rather than narrative. Two archaeologists, star-crossed mammoth hunters, wander the ice. Lover (super Starr Busby) woos Beloved (Erin Mallon), then slips her a mickey—and suddenly reality melts and commingles. In subsequent, hallucinatory (Tina Shepard and Kristine Haruna Lee) grow a mammoth’s heart in a vat; later, they picnic at the end of the world. Finally, Lover and Beloved transmogrify into earth’s last wooly proto-elephants: Extinction itself throbs with emo melancholy.
There’s a dash too much treacle here, but the writer-director’s main issue is execution. As is common in this sentimental surrealist genre, Burnett writes evocative, impossible stage directions (“The aurora borealis turns on”), but his poor-theater production only sometimes manufactures them. Worse, he leaves pregnant pauses for each invisible event, and so his brief Holocene evening seems to last an Age.—Helen Shaw
The Brick (Off-Off Broadway). Written and directed by Adam R. Burnett. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission.