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.
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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I'm shocked and confused by this review actually. I saw the show and found it full of humanity, wit, pathos, gritty reality, and charmingly relatable, characters. Forget that it takes place online, I was instantly drawn into this familiar world. I wanted to laugh and cry simultaneously with every person in the Acheron bar.
The themes of Greek drama and tragedy travel through out, and the choreography in particular is rich, raw, and full of visceral feeling. But, the viewer does not need to be familiar with these themes to enjoy the show as they invoke a real primal reaction and give the sense that there something out there greater than the individual, connecting us all to each other and our ancestors-- THIS is what theatre is about. THIS is why I see live theatre.
And, as a side note-- the use of "found texts" threaded together to create coherent, fully fleshed out, multi-faceted human beings is nothing short of brilliant-- bravi tutti to the team for this. It's friggin genius to drive the point home of connectedness and shared experience by taking the words of others and achieving the successful creation of DIFFERENT relatable humans.
This show leaves you digesting straight through the evening and into the next day. Thank you to the team of writers and creators for this.
I'm honestly planning on seeing Seen By Everyone again to glean even more from this experience, and I think you should as well. It's like nothing I've ever seen. You won't be disappointed.
The premise of this show intrigues anyone and everyone that sees it or hears about it. It will really stay with you and make you want to see it again to catch what you have missed. If you know about the structure of Greek Tragedy it is particularly moving and meaningful