Insomnia and The Calamity of Kat Kat and Willie
Babel Theatre Project at the Medicine Show Theatre
It has become a delight in reviewing theatre for NTC to bring a friend along and together ruminate and bounce reactions- theatre best when cohorting. In this instance, J’s particular friend joyfully commented upon curtain: "I could be critical right now but that just doesn't seem appropriate. My only critique is that now I have to chain smoke." Friend meant this in the most laudatory way.
We both agree, it is an overwhelming reassurance- a profound comfort- to find the Babel Theatre Project. A youthful collective of aspiring professionals, their theatre consistently demonstrates edgy smarts and artfulness without pretension or device. It shows joy and faith in the framework and possibilities of theatre as palpable and competitively conscious of contemporary experience as the best literature, art and music. Amassing new works from young playwrights and workshopping with young directors, actors, designers, dramaturges, etc, members mount a summer season of plays and readings, this year including here reviewed rep: Insomnia by Jessica Brickman/ directed by Geordie Broadwater, and The Calamity of Kat Kat and Willie by Emily Young/directed by Heath Cullens.
The first, Insomnia, came off as a light, playful trip through absurdity and dreamscape. The protagonist, Georgia, carries on in some sort of R.E.M. state, "flirting with the Sandman" and his pet sheep
What Insomnia lacked in character relations Calamity gave in surplus. The play's actual plot line completely shrinks (to beautiful effect) under the weight of its rendering of individuals and their relative distance from as well as reliance on one another. Young has crafted wonderfully singular characters and the acting and directing served her superbly. Miriam Silverman pushes through as relentless soul-searching British ex-pat Kat Kat, opposite consistently good-hearted ex-swindler Willie, inhabited in all his confusion and unrelenting adoration by Jeremy Bobb; both were absolutely amazing, their relationship endlessly complex, potent and mesmerizing. Erik Liberman systematically show-stops with his one-man assemblage of ex-pat figurines, and Joe Petrilla, though hard to understand through his tongue-twisting Birmingham-brogue, stands his ground as British hooligan Jonesy. An unflinching balance of plot and anti-plot, realism and theatricality, Calamity becomes a summation of human experience, reveling in the delicate isolation of the individual and the beautiful complications that come from two trying to connect- simple and complicated as all that.
The most impressive part of this