Review: 3 2's; or AFAR
Mac Wellman mingles deep philosophy with theatrical whimsy.
Mon Oct 17 2011
Photograph: Cathryn Lynne
2 3's or AFAR
3 2's; or AFAR at Dixon Place
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Any production that prompts a postshow discussion twice its length can't be all bad. And as usual, playwright Mac Wellman's latest experiment does just that—although two hours of deep analysis probably won't make its message any clearer. Loosely inspired by 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger's A Dialogue on Language between a Japanese and an Inquirer, the show features a man (Quinlan Corbett) courting a woman (Jocelyn Kuritsky) who runs a puppet theater in Park Slope. But their romance is haunted by a gaggle of cackling, masked demons (Sophie Nimmannit, Chuja Seo and Jan Leslie Harding, who also serves as puppet designer) that roams the stage spouting curses, philosophy and the odd tuneless song.
The production values are stunning. Dixon Place's configuration has been inverted, with the action taking place where the audience normally sits. Kyle Chepulis's lovely little shadow-puppet theater sits atop the balcony, and Brian Aldous's lighting adeptly illuminates the action, even when dialogue remains obscure. Meghan Finn skillfully directs a game cast, and there are several memorable moments—the postcoitus couple dressing awkwardly in silhouette behind the screen, a bowling ball rolling ominously across the stage—and then there's drivel like the number "The Devil's Butthole." The overall thrust of the piece seems to be about the impossibility of meaningful communication among people. Assuming that's the case, the play totally makes its point.