Seen / By Everyone

Theater
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Seen / By Everyone: Theater review by Jenna Scherer

A Facebook news feed is less than the sum of its parts. An abundance of thoughts does not add up to something coherent, or even necessarily interesting. Yet it is this very random flotsam upon which Seen / By Everyone is built. Like a bad status update, Five on a Match's social-media meditation uses a lot of words to say not much at all.

Conceived by Amir Darvish and Meg MacCary and co-created by the other members of Five on a Match (who also perform), Seen / By Everyone is a collage formed from real messages posted on social-media platforms. The ten "characters" who populate the show aren't so much people as mouthpieces through which the detritus of Twitter and Facebook flows. They careen drunkenly through a watering hole called Acheron (the mythical river of woe) that has a karaoke machine at one end and a TV-screen-lined bar at the other. Everyone is apparently there in the aftermath of a funeral, but talk of shared grief soon gets pushed to the wayside in favor of talk about shared…absolutely everything else.

Speaking across each other (just like on the real internet!) these ephemeral drunks sound off on everything from the futility of online dating to gun control to the pros and cons of a foreskin. Occasionally they return to the theme of death in the public eye, the subject that Seen / By Everyone seems to be most interested in, but before long someone goes off on another tangent or random story—very few of them particularly moving or unique. Total self-involvement is not dramatically engaging.

The already gimmicky premise is further bogged down by Kristin Marting's portentous direction: filmed confessionals, choreographed movement patterns that don't do much more than distract, clunky visual metaphors, and performers speaking at the same feverish emotional pitch with little modulation.

"Anything that is available to a public audience is considered public information," declares the bartender/cipher (Enormvs Muñoz) at the beginning of the show, a quote culled from Facebook's Help page. That may be true; but if you're going to turn a series of status messages into a piece of theater, audiences deserve more curating than Seen / By Everyone provides.—Jenna Scherer

HERE (Off-Off Broadway). By Five on a Match. Directed by Kristin Marting. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

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Details

Event website: http://www.seenbyeveryone.com
Event phone: 212-352-3101
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