Monday, May 27, 2013

Are You There? by STAR TOO at The Fridge

I caught the late matinee of STAR TOO's most recent play last Saturday, at The Fridge. As with all of the Dubai experimental theater troupe's productions, the play was titled with a question, the sixth and current one being "Are You There?".

Before the play started, bookkeeper Tareq Ghosheh talked introduced the concept and individually-scripted/collectively-directed methodology of STAR TOO. This play was inspired by Jules Verne's  dystopian 1863 novel Paris in the Twentieth Century, which itself only got published in the late 20th century, and is considered to be a visionary piece of writing.

The play got off to a great start by taking a page from the novel and introducing the character Michel, played by Jamal Iqbal, in the first scene. Michel is ridiculed for studying the arts in a society that has been completely taken over by technology and commerce to the point where they are the only fields of work that are considered to have any  value. The story was told using minimal and/or symbolic props and costumes, as is the style of experimental theater. The audience also got to vote between an idealistic and realistic ending.

One of the scenes was a cryptic masked dance led by Shereen Saif, and another was a sort of build-a-machine act around a stuffed corpse doll, both of which were good.

The sequence where the actors here interacted over video comm with actors in Paris was, unfortunately, difficult to follow, due to the choppy quality of the connection, and the audio in general was not too great. Part of the "enslaved to technology" theme, perhaps?

The truth officer candidate's sequence was fairly interesting to watch, with its theme of extreme technological essentialism. Sarah Dufayard was good in this one, and I think Drazen Lucic made a sincere effort. Alexandra Vareno's rantologue near the end was also nice.

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