Reality, memory and identity are distorted for six nostalgic characters whose lives all converge on a road that is nowhere and leads to nowhere. Formerly of Richard Foreman's ontological theater, Temporary Distortion's clever use of multi-media to represent the psyche is impressive, but this pensive, occasionally bland performance will resonate with David Lynch fans who may cry foul for the aping. Photo by Kenneth Collins
............................................................Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
David Lynch, beware. There's a small theater in town named Temporary Distortion trying to steal the thunder of your Lost Highway, and they're doing it in just an hour. In Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road), they've taken your pale-hued, spooky characters, trained them to whisper ponderously, and have detached them from any linear story lines. But here, they've also spliced film with performance art, audio with visuals, and are using what appears to be tricked-out sound booths with a time-travel chamber as the light-happy set. But with all that glitz and creativity, the show is still sometimes snooze-inducing.
It's not the visuals. With carefully-calculated lighting design, interesting looking characters, good film work, catchy, repeat-along captions and a set straight out of a science lab, there's enough eye stimulation to keep you alert. And it's not the theme. Identity, memory and reality are always juicy themes to dig into, particularly when they're elusive and can't be pinned down to satisfy the need for regularity. The only things left are the pacing and the stylized vocal arrangements. For the most part, the pacing is lazy, tempered and monotonous, as are the monologues and dialogue. The words themselves are not noteworthy, and delivered in a mono-tempo and cadence, the allure dies quickly. But it is not all boring. Just when you are being lulled to sleep, the vocal design changes between two characters or music interjects your nap. But you have to wait 25 minutes for the first change, and that just may be 25 minutes too long.
Welcome to Nowhere is pretentious: it tries too hard. Perhaps it would be more successful as a single medium, like as a fully-fledged film. Then again, it's sexy and sports enough messed-up characters to make for good drama. It emulates a master--not well enough to hide the flaws--but in such a way that the flaws create their own flair. If Temporary Distortion can find some of that flair earlier, the show may evolve into that new, ground-breaking creature.
..............................................Through October 27th. Tickets: $15. http://www.ovationtix.com/ Chocolate Factor: 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Queens)