According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Part of the Under The Radar Festival.
Writer and performer Allen Johnson takes us on a stark, existential journey into his head in this raw, spoken-scream piece that examines God, love, and the pursuit of acceptance.
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
Deep within the realm of the uninhibited, where courage takes root and intimacy hangs up pictures, lies Allen Johnson's Another You. In his mentally-arresting bio-logue (a monologue with biological details), Johnson uses a dollop of raunch with a dash of cold facts to manipulate the audience's sensitivities. And it works. From the simple toilet set-piece to the mood-swing inspired light cues, all collaborate to pull on the strings of our fears and whimsies. Johnson uses stream of consciousness storytelling and romantic language to delve into scenarios not readily swallowed, and fantasies that some would deem unapproachable.
Quoting late photographer Diane Arbus, he proceeds to capture some of her notions of non-traditional beauty in anecdotes and desires that are uneasy. Although diminutive in stature, there is nothing small about this performer's ability to make you feel like a chum, even if he lets you in on secrets that you wish he hadn't. However, perhaps he is too relaxed, making us forget that we are there to see a drama in the midst of his gift of gab. His performance lacks showmanship, and could benefit from the semblance of effort.
Johnson intersperses good-natured stories with dark ones, and indulges in child-like behavior almost as much as he asserts his forced adulthood. Touted as a performer who doesn't use the "fourth wall" (the imaginary wall of a box set, separating the actors from the audience), his movements are ironically confined to the center of the stage. He orbits the toilet, a prop he clearly sees as a medium of release, retreat, and clear thinking. The toilet is an imposing prop, and I couldn't help referencing it in every instance, i.e. humor automatically became "toilet" humor, tales of misfortune became "s**t happens."
Johnson's voice-over use is effective, and the sound bytes are eerie where they need to be and ominous when required. He waxes poetic on many topics, but the co-stars of the show are his father and a desperate need for understanding, stars that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is not metaphysics that he seeks, but rather proof of life, proof of love, and proof of truth. With an ending that is too abrupt and anguish that is congealed, Johnson leaves us wanting more. He urges us to explore our hidden sides, and make friends with our true selves. It is a daunting challenge, but a good one.
Written and performed by Allen Johnson (Seattle). Directed by Sean Ryan. Running Time: 70 minutes. The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, $15 tickets: publictheater.org or 212-967-7555. Wed. Jan 17th 8pm,Thurs. Jan. 18th 3pm,Fri. Jan. 19th 9:30pm,Sat. Jan. 20th 4pm,Sun. Jan. 21st 7pm,Mon. Jan. 22nd 7pm,Wed. Jan. 24th 9:30pm,Thurs. Jan. 25th 7pm,Fri. Jan. 26th 9:30pm,Sat. Jan. 27th 4pm,Sun. Jan. 28th 7pm
Posted by Cindy Pierre at 1/20/2007 04:46:00 PM