Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reviewer 'Craves' understanding

Vpstart one-act challenges conventions

By Camille Adams, A&E Writer
 
Pacific Lutheran University’s production of the play “Crave” forced audience members to keep an open mind for a very different style of performance.
  

The student-directed play premiered in Eastvold Studio Theater last Friday and Saturday.
Vpstart Crow, a student organization, offers the opportunity for such avant-garde productions to be selected and produced by junior or senior students.
 
 “Crave” received the funding Vpstart Crow gives to one student-directed production each year, competing against fellow play “All in the Timing.”
  
“Crave’s” complex style certainly earns that funding.
  
Junior Myia Johnson had the tricky task of interpreting this script, which lacks any stage direction and only refers to the four characters as A, B, C and M.
  
British playwright Sarah Kane penned “Crave” and five other works, before committing suicide at the age of 28.

Kane’s history of mental instability shows through the thoroughly disconnected plotlines and uncertain identity of each character, as they toss lines back and forth like a tennis ball.
  
The dialogue often appears to form a coherent line of thought, but Shakespeare quotes, Biblical allusion, sporadic singing, jaw harp playing and disturbed laughing interrupt the nearly logical sequence.
  
However, the small cast did a wonderful job of attempting to interpret this jumble of meaning for their audience.
  
“They did it really well, but I don’t know what they did,” sophomore Dan Stell said.
  
Johnson’s skills as a director were evident in the artistic use of space and simple objects in the studio theater.
  
Technical aspects, such as the use of shadows and different colored lighting, which was displayed on a long, white curtain, helped create a particular mood at different points in the show.
  
The play opened in the dark, and as each character turned on a flashlight to reveal their presence, they rushed to pull open the black curtains surrounding the small room.
  
They continued to use the flashlights to interact with one another as they ran around barefoot, conveying emotion through stomping, dancing and movements that came close to violence.
  
Near the start of the play, one character states, “and if this makes no sense then you understand perfectly.”
  
This notion of understanding pervades the entire show, either resulting in enlightenment or a massive headache.
  
The heightened state of character emotions, interspersed with serious issues of rape, abuse and eating disorders create a tense environment.
  
If paired with a clear plot and characters, such feeling could be conveyed and digested with greater ease, but without a sense of grounding for the audience, the show is an emotional roller coaster with vertical drops and no end in sight.
 
The fluid reality of the play allowed each viewer or on-stage participant to come away with a different message.
 
“Memories are relived, private thoughts become public, as the characters struggle through pain, love and power,” Johnson said of her own directorial interpretation.
  
Other guesses by audience members included the significance of family past and universal truths about relationships.
  
“We become what we hate about our parents and pass on the pain,” first-year Alex Clayton said.
  
While even those who spend more than 90 minutes with the script could debate the meaning of the play forever, the talent of the players on and off stage cannot be denied.
  
“It was creative and well done,” first-year Anna Loose said. “It was unlike anything I have ever seen.”