Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Disappeared" at Monkey Wrench Collective

It's hard to resist a theatregoing experience where you walk into a playing area transformed into a bar, they have a classic Wurlitzer jukebox churning out your personal favorite hits of the '60s, and they hand you a beer.

It's equally hard to resist a play with an eccentric and mysterious protagonist who may or may not be a murderer, and then you're still left to speculate at the end.

That's Phyllis Nagy's Disappeared, which runs through May 22 at Monkey Wrench Collective under artistic director Dave Barton's direction.

A few thoughts came to mind as I watched the play last night:

Our proclivity to jump to conclusions, and our endless pursuit of some ideal of objective truth, despite the fact that three different people can witness the same occurrence yet see three different things (a la the classic Rashomon).

The differences between writing for the live theatre and for film--evidenced in this play by a number of short scenes designed to advance the plot or provide some essential bit of information that make perfect sense in a movie, but tend to sell short the unique storytelling opportunities afforded by the stage.

Nevertheless, Nagy shows herself adept in both media as her meatier opening and closing scenes demonstrate and through a truly compelling second act opener.

Whether the disparate styles belong together has been an ongoing debate in the theatre world where more and more script submissions look like screenplays and fewer writers seem to have mastered the craft of live theatre.

Perhaps Nagy believes that a successful fusion of the two is achievable. Disappeared doesn't entirely convince me of that, but I'm open to being persuaded.

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