“OEDI@:us [pronounced “Eddie at Colon Us”] is an incredible fusion of three separate and distinct mediums. OEDI@:us, designed to entertain preadults and nontheatergoers, combines rock music and political rebellion to tackle longstanding points of contention the events of September 11, 2001 realized ... OEDI@:us, the second installment of a two-part “The Best” series, is made with the recipe for success.”
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In an attempt to prevent The Homeland from attaining world domination, a group of Web-based singer-revolutionaries created “The Best,” a World Wide Web computer code for the development of stardom,—a futuristic Making the Band?—which disseminates subconscious messages to the masses. “The Best” received widespread attention when OEDI, a posthuman living computer and government-funded experiment in “reverse engineered digital consciousness,” saved it from government hackers. The group was indebted to OEDI, but, because he required an enormous external processor to operate, he was uninstalled from “The Best” and became inactive. What results during OEDI@:us—pronounced “Eddie at Colon Us”—is the course of action the group follows to find OEDI an appropriate Web host. Problems arise, however, because group members have different agendas—including the pursuit of independent music careers—and, though each wants to save the world, group members have problems “hitting ‘save’ in a text document without having a big fight about it first.” OEDI is installed to the :us server before OEDI@:us concludes, but how he will use his newfound (processing) power is the lingering concern.
In the opening moments of OEDI@:us, it is difficult to understand the work writer and director Eamonn Farrell has created and make sense of what is happening. What he and his assembled ensemble of real-life singer-revolutionaries unveil thereafter, however, promises to please.
Adapting Oedipus at Colonus, Farrell has created an innovative and enlightening musical theater work. His writing—about the eeriness of survival in an age when technological advancement and globalization are markers of power and capital—is humorous, but sharp and aware. During OEDI@:us, conventions of visual pleasure and proscenium theater are frustrated, as the ensemble—through experimentation with video projection, sound mixing, and camera work in plain sight of the viewer—reinforces the political subtext of the work and heightens the critical consciousnesses of the characters and the viewer. Since OEDI@:us is staged in a nightclub, the breathing room once reserved for the viewer is fair game for the ensemble, leaving the viewer entertained but uncomfortable and alert. This is an interesting reflection on intercultural exchange and its discomforts and dangers, because the viewer participates in an exchange with “The Best.” This kind of exchange, which includes the transfer of culture, is part of the trend of globalization. Through dramatizing the problematic politics and culture of The Homeland, OEDI@:us illustrates the errors of the United States. Both are nations of consumption where thought is seldom given to the dangers that befall people who oppose the government and the danger of the globalizing images people consume on a regular basis.
Masi Asare and Jim Iseman III have written commanding music. “The OEPIC of OEDI,” “Good Touch Bad Touch,” “I Am a Flower,” “War Song,” “The OEDI Tango,” and “Encore Tag: Hit The Best” are exceptional numbers. Each has purpose—introducing characters and providing thorough revelations into the significance of the work—but each is allowed room to breathe and amuse as well. “Homegrown” is the best number. It speaks to the maintenance of Self despite the overwhelming obstacles The Homeland (the United States!), with purpose, creates. Its music—full of fervent percussion and bass—matches and accentuates the expressive qualities of its words and singers.
Jessica Weinstein is Hilda, the droll emcee of the performance. Her stiltwalking, facial expressions, and “seizure”-induced movements endear her to the viewer. As Melissa, Liz Davito is hilarious. In her video montages and on-the-spot musical performances (“I Am a Flower” in particular), her comic timing is what the doctor ordered. Her out-of-place seriousness of tone recalls the invocations of actors in self-help infomercials and Herpes medicines television spots. Eirik Gislason is excellent. His representation of a character that embodies cultural globalization—Ethan appropriates urban cultural properties in his speech, movement, and dress—is another comedic highlight. His singing—powerful and amazing—captures the innate and evocative temperament of the music. He excels in the numbers “Homegrown” and “Garden.”
OEDI@:us is an incredible fusion of three separate and distinct mediums. OEDI@:us, designed to entertain preadults and nontheatergoers, combines rock music and political rebellion to tackle longstanding points of contention the events of September 11, 2001 realized. Utilizing the power of theater, music, and electronic media, OEDI@:us—one part Web broadcast, one part theater, one part rock concert, infinite parts entertainment—addresses survival, power, and omnipresence in the wake of constant and interrelated threats of cultural globalization, global domination and militarization, and technological advancement. OEDI@:us, the second installment of a two-part “The Best” series, is made with the recipe for success.