The Snow Hen
By Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen. Dir. Oliver Butler. With Bos and Thureen. Charlie Pineapple Theatre (see Off-Off Broadway).
Thu Feb 23 2006
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
The nameless central character of The Snow Hen, a whimsical performance piece created by the Debate Society, is a collector of flotsam. Her cluttered Arctic bungalow is filled with fallout from a ruined civilization—broken appliances, misfit toys, industrial shrapnel—whose accumulation is the sole purpose of her life. The show she spearheads is not unlike one of her prizes: lonely, melancholic, ultimately drifting with uncertain purpose toward obscurity.
As played by cocreator Hannah Bos, this woman (who, judging from the feathers sprouting from her back, is the title figure) is an appealingly naive, steadfast presence whose company is pleasant enough that you almost don’t mind watching her go through her silent daily routine for a full half-hour. Eventually, when a breathtakingly tall and potentially menacing stranger (Thureen) enters, it’s clear from his stitched-together leather coat and Frankenstein boots that he’s a perfect addition to her assemblage.
The largely wordless development of their relationship, like the play itself, unfolds in The hinterlands of the precious, only a few feet away from its border with the genuinely moving. The performers (abetted by director Oliver Butler) are so careful to keep their story of postapocalyptic longing as subtle as possible that the characters barely register as human. Though the production edges close to an entrancingly dreamlike realm, its detachment engenders sympathy rather than empathy—making it just another pretty, forlorn object on the shelf.—Jeff Lewonczyk