Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company's hang

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called hang. It was by debbie tucker green and it was directed by Keira Fromm. It was about a woman, listed in the program as 3 (Patrese D. McClain), who has come into an office to tell 1 (Eleni Pappageorge) and 2 (Annabel Armour), who work there, her big decision. And she was not having any of their happy-go-lucky demeanor. The first part of the play you are trying to figure out why 3 is there and what she is upset about. In the second half you are trying to figure out what she has made a decision about and why she has to make it. Even though your main character doesn't have a name, you want her to get justice, but you are not sure exactly what she is getting justice for or at the expense of whom. Some of the questions get answered clearly and some never do. I really like mystery in plays and seeing things unfold and letting your imagination take over for some moments, so I really liked this show. It is funny in moments, but in very dark ways, which made me love it even more because I love dark comedy. You are holding your breath a lot of the time because you are waiting to see what the heck is going on, and I found that super exciting and terrifying.

At the beginning it seemed like 3 was there for just a business meeting or maybe a therapy session. Or they might be interviewing her about a crime. But at no point did it cross my mind that she was there for what she was there for. They build this sense of dread in a really interesting way. The most genuinely hospitable things started to sound menacing because of the amount of times they ask and the way she turns them down. They kept wanting to hang up her coat, or get her some water, or inform her about the heat of the water. Also, they, 1 and 2, kept wanting to get 3 some kind of tea and listing all the types of tea they had on the premises. She kept turning them down angrily and they seemed sort of put off by the fact that she doesn't want tea and they won't let it go. They even take the time to report to 3 that the herbal tea has arrived halfway through the play. At that point the tea just seems absurd and there is no reason anymore to talk about the tea. It seems like they are really really trying to make her at home--almost threatening her to relax. And when she won't, they seem to get more determined to make her feel at home. The repetition of asking about the tea is what makes it so terrifying to me. It is such a simple thing they can let go but they want to avoid the real subject so much they'll keep talking about it for an hour. It almost made me worry that the tea was poisoned for a minute. It is also what makes it funny, to see them persisting and 3's reaction to their whole four-act play about herbal tea.

In the program it says that the time it takes place is "nearly now," but that could be taken a bunch of different ways. I personally think it must be the near future when certain laws have come back to the UK, because some of the things they mention don't seem completely legal nowadays in Great Britain. But this entire transaction could be illegal. There are so many ways to think about it. It sort of seems like it is in the future. The style and automation of the lights seemed futuristic. But they still have IKEA, which makes you think it might be days away. It makes it seem less futuristic. In the play, 1 and 2 are trying to normalize pretty horrible things, which might make it seem like it might be in the future. But they also bring up things that are very normal to us today, like IKEA furniture, which makes us think it might be very close at hand, that these characters' world might become our reality. It adds urgency to the end of the show and it made me think a lot about what I think might happen next in play and in the real world.

This paragraph is full of spoilers, so if you have seen the show already and want to read it, here's the link.

People who would like this show are people who like futuristic politics, the persistence of IKEA, and excessive herbal tea. I think that people should go and see this show. It is such an interesting concept and it is beautifully acted. I loved it.

Photos: Michael Courier Photography

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