Terrible Things

Katie Pearl and Lisa D'Amour fetishize marshmallows.

  • LESS IS S'MORE Pearl is a giant among marshmallows; Photographs: Justin Bernhaut

LESS IS S'MORE Pearl is a giant among marshmallows; Photographs: Justin Bernhaut

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

The talented duo Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl (Nita & Zita, Anna Bella Eema) have been making shows together for 13 years, creating comic, dreamlike pieces of impressive range and tossing duties (writer, performer, director) back and forth with zest and aplomb. I say this because it contextualizes their recent, underwhelming Terrible Things as a looking-back, a valedictory for a baker’s decade of artistic collaboration. Yes, everything from Pearl’s deliberately robotic monologue to the claustrophobically autobiographical content teeters on the solipsistic. But there’s something cozy about it, too—not as persuasive as their other work, yet intimate as a kind of consolation.

Marshmallows cover the floor, marching in a tidy grid across the blackness. They become fetishized objects, sometimes carried about with absurd gravity, sometimes stuck mysteriously to the wall. The pint-size Pearl is also fetishized: As she recounts the ballet classes of her youth and some poorly managed breakups, dancers (dressed like a Soviet women’s gymnastics team) and wrestlers (in blue spandex) manipulate her as if she were a doll. Choreographer Emily Johnson creates some fascinating moves, including a feline sequence in which the dancers use odd prosthetic limbs to sweep the floor, and designer Anna Kiraly transforms the so-familiar space, surprising us with magically appearing Mondrian rectangles. Sadly, the text spirals dangerously into overindulgence. There is a limp conceit borrowed from physics about multiple outcomes and infinite possibilities. But while Pearl and D’Amour try to cover their asses by being self-aware (Pearl admits that her father busted her for using physics to justify her narcissism), the show is still paralyzed by the writers’ navel-gazing. Schrdinger be damned: You just can’t have it both ways.—Helen Shaw

See more Theater reviews

P.S. 122. By Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl. Dir. D’Amour. With Pearl. 1hr 10mins. No intermission.