Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review of Sideshow Theatre Company's Caught

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Caught. It was by Christopher Chen and it was directed by Seth Bockley. It was about, well, it is very disorienting but it is fun. And I don't want to give too much away. It is about lies, trickery, and what we think is art. I liked this show. I thought it was very fun and interesting. Afterwards I felt like I was dreaming or something. It made me think about cultural appropriation, like somebody doing something that isn't part of their specific culture, and if that is ok. I also thought about the fine line between lying and art.

This show talks a lot about cultural appropriation, which I do think is an important thing to talk about because there are things that if a person does something that usually belongs to another culture, someone can get offended. I think that the character that the playwright has talk about cultural appropriation, Wang Min (Helen Young), seems kind of crazy, though, because she is very paranoid and everything she says seems like she is trying to sound smarter than the other person even though we can't understand what she means. She keeps saying, "it is not a matter of this or this" which I thought was funny. I think the playwright is saying she is overly concerned about cultural appropriation. In this scene Ann James plays herself and her reactions to Wang Min are hilarious; she's trying to look smart and also not seem racist. I think the scene is here for two reasons: for comedy and to show what the writer thinks about people who are obsessed with cultural appropriation and people who believe that cultural appreciation keeps them from seeming racist. I think he thinks both of them have problems.

Lying and art are both very big concepts in this show. Lin (Ben Chang) feels like he has to lie and have a really sad backstory and also make good art to be a famous artist. I think the reason that people think that getting a sad backstory will get them more publicity and get them to be a more famous artist is that people think artists with sad stories have a lot of talent because they didn't get lessons but they still continued to do their art and people who had classes are good because they had a good teacher. The structure of the show is very complex. When you walk into the theater there is basically an art exhibit and you can go up on stage and look at all the artwork. I liked the artwork (by Larry Lee) a lot. There were faucets and a fish in a glass aquarium. And there were these pictures lined up on the floor of this man screaming. He could have been upside down, but it was kind of up for judgement what was happening. And there was a Chinese food box sculpture that was really cool. Then they tell you to sit in your seat and you get tricked a lot about what is real and what is fake. Usually when I get tricked or lied to, I feel really bad about it. But because this was theater, I already kind of knew it wasn't all real. But at the end I was still completely fooled. I think the people who worked on this show wanted you to be disoriented and feel tricked and lied to when you left. But they still wanted you to have fun, I think. And I did still have fun.

There was a piece of art at the Art Institute called Wu Street by Xu Bing and Ai Wei Wei. It was super interesting and it reminded me a lot of this play. There were several oil paintings the artists found in the trash and rescued. And they found an article about the abstract painter Jonathan Lasker and thought it sounded like the paintings, so they published a Chinese translation of that article with a made up artist name and pictures of the found paintings. It reminded me of the play because the play shows a story of people who have deceived others into thinking something is groundbreaking art. And then the deception itself is the art at the Art Institute but then the deception in the play is also the art because the play itself is art. I'm sorry I can't be more specific; you'll have to see the show to find out more specifically what I mean.

People who would like this show are people who like disorienting and fun plays, things not being a matter of something or something, and goldfish. I think that people should go see this show. It is super fun and made me think a lot. I enjoyed it.

Photos: Jonathan L. Green

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