Friday, September 23, 2016

The Undertaking (2016) BAM Next Wave Fest 2016

The Civilians meta look at death has a fictional Steve Cosson interviewing his friend Lydia about death for a play about death where we will hear the actual words of the people he interviewed. Its an examination of the things that happen as we die, after and why we are so afraid of it.

Largely intriguing play mixes actual interviews with projections and sections of Jean Cocteaus's film ORPHEUS in order to chart Steve's exploration of death. Its a show that frequently has great power when recounting the words of those who have confronted  death in one way or another.

The problem with the show is that some where just past the half way point the script which is largely designed as a conversation between two people with illustrative interjections, becomes a spirit quest as Steve makes a journey to the land of the dead in order to confront his fears. It works up to a point but begins to unravel as they build a pillow fort and what felt real (I'm guessing due to much of it being transcriptions of real conversations)  suddenly feels contrived as the dialog structure disappears into navel gazing. The show recovers in the end but not enough to stir the emotions.

I talked with Unseen Films contributor Hubert Vigilla about the show for almost an hour afterward and in the end I came away feeling that the show is one more draft away from being where it should be. There is so much there that works that if something could be done with the vision quest they could have a truly great piece.

That said- I recommend the show because it gets your brain going.

THE UNDERTAKING plays through Sunday though only standby tickets are available.

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