Friday, May 4, 2018

Review of The Right Brain Project's Raised in Captivity

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Raised in Captivity. It was by Nicky Silver and it was directed by Kathi Kaity. It was about a man named Sebastian (Joel Collins) and his sister Bernadette (Hannah Williams). They hadn't spoken to each other for many years and their mother had just died unexpectedly. Their lives are both going through major changes around that time and they have to learn to deal with each other and the twists and turns of life. It is about sibling rivalry, coping with loss, and what makes a family.

Bernadette's husband Kip (Tyler Esselman) had recently given up his career as a dentist to become a painter. He would paint only using white because he didn't want to mess up. I was wondering what they were trying to get across with that because it seemed too important to just be comedic. One of my theories is that it meant that if you don't take chances in life (like painting in color) then you won't ever do anything important in society. Your life will be a blank slate. Another theory I had was that when you make art a lot of people won't understand, but there will always be someone who can see what you are getting at. In this case, Hillary (Liz Goodson), who is Sebastian's ex-therapist, understands what Kip is trying to do with his art because of their similar ideas about what makes life beautiful.

This play had a really interesting take on freedom. Sometimes I felt like this show was trying to say that no matter what you do it will never matter and you will always feel like hurting yourself and everything you do is futile. All of the characters are depressed and don't really want to be there, but seem to feel like they are trapped. Ironically, the one character that seems to be kind of happy from the beginning, but in a creepy way, is Dylan Sinclair (Vic Kuligoski), who is in jail, so he can't leave. Kip wants freedom in multiple ways: he wants to go to a country that is more open and free and he wants to be free from the shackles of his marriage. And he wants to be free of the constraints of his job and his baby. He ends up getting all of it. I'm not sure if that is supposed to be a "good for him!" or a "he's a jerk!" I'm just not sure how the play thought I should feel about him. Sebastian and Bernadette both end up wanting to be free of the romantic relationships they thought they wanted and free of normal family constructs. They both discover happiness being responsible for something they can shape; the baby is a blank slate. Everyone wants to start their life over in this play, and if they have this being they can shape, it is like starting over.

I think this play uses a lot of heightened events to get big reactions. One character with extreme behavior takes their eyes out with a screwdriver. Another one stabs someone. Another one sees a ghost. I'm not sure what I think about this technique. I really like watching slices of people's lives. I like dark comedy and farce. But for some reason this play just didn't click with me. I think it might be because the playwright wants to show us that people cannot really make human connections and cannot listen to and understand each other. That is why all their behavior is so extreme. It can be true for people in real life, but I like to see people connecting with each other on stage. There is one relationship where Sebastian feels like he has a connection with someone. But it ends up that that person is not feeling the same way he is. And it seems like the reason they can connect is because they never have to see each other face to face.

People who would like this show are people who like white paintings, extreme plot points, and blank slate babies. I think it is an interesting show, and I think there are a lot of people who enjoy dark theater like this. I'm glad I saw it.

Photos: Lindsay Williams Photography

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