Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Mess" at Theatre of Note

I almost cancelled my tickets because I was tired, predetermined to be annoyed with the parking situation, and also who the hell wants to see a one-woman show in a tiny black box theatre in the middle of Hollywood? This isn't going to be good. It's LA LA Land and some actress has written her own show about her identity because she has nothing better to do and she didn't get cast for anything in pilot season. And I am so glad I can think all these things and still sit down in a tiny box with 10 other strangers and think 'ok but maybe...' because I get to watch things like "Mess."

It is a show about identity, quantum entanglement, summer bible camp, and cracking open the time-space continuum. And it is performed by one actress on stage. Kristen Vangsness is unbelievable in holding the space with her energy and words. She hands out percussion instruments to the audience and manages to conduct everyone in a hilarious Brechtian song about life while kazoos, cymbals, whistles, and tambourines clang in some strange stage jazz. And this is going to sound like the most pretentious thing in the world but her writing felt like a contemporary spin-off of Samuel Beckett with its abrupt pauses, strange tangents, rephrasing of common sayings so that they become unrecognizable at first until the punchline kicks in, sentences that begin normally and then regress into nonsensical babble as she reconfigured storytelling. It was like a remixing of "Krapp's Last Tape" with a stand-up comedy routine.

Afterward I walked outside for air and looked around. Kyle, my boyfriend/theatre wingman, asked "what did you think" but I wasn't interested in the usual theatre chit chat. I don't even know if this is "a good show" that a standard audience would enjoy. What I do know is that about 20 minutes into this mad hatter romp something began to stir. Other audience member looked around like conspirators, laughing, a bit unnerved, could we even begin to think that something transcendental was happening in this shitty little black box off Sunset Blvd with $7 parking that wasn't even valet?!? Then there more glances, 'no this isn't happening. I'm crazy. Maybe you're crazy. She is...definitely crazy. Ok maybe but...'  I asked Kyle if ever had any quantum experiences like in the play? "No...don't think so...ok maybe...actually..." and then like an unleashed wave he began listing incredible 'not normal' transportations of mind and body. I asked for details and even more stories came forward. Then I started remembering all these little and big moments from my life. I don't think most theatre does that when you see it. I don't think it causes catharsis or mental reconfiguration, or spiritual transportation. I'm immensely grateful that I get to gush about "Mess" because it means there are still artists spilling themselves outside the usual containers.

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