Performing Arts: Theater
May 15, 2014
KEEP YOUR ELECTRIC EYE ON ME, conceived, created, and directed by Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty, and performed by Madeline Best and Carlton Ward, is playied at HERE Arts Center. Developed through the HERE Resident Artist Production program, Irons and Petty, known for their complex and richly layered interdisciplinary work, KEEP YOUR ELECTRIC EYE ON ME definitely fits into their range of “confounding, confronting, and intriguing” the viewer.

The audience enters the performance space, with the set in place: three scrims in the back reflect active projections of glimmering light bulbs. Three video cameras on tripods are positioned center downstage, a cluttered dressing room type table on stage right holds up tv sets, a record player, elixirs, a motorized lazy susan projects on a video screen above the table, and a large video screen to stage left, projects glimmering specs of sand particles falling--all manner of items collectively mystify the audience about what is about to happen in this surreal environment. The artists’ note says: “the props, sound, movement, images, and spoken incantations are meant to conjure notions of transformation, liminality, hysteria, and the desire for the unattainable.

Thirteen listed “Tracks” in the program keep us loosely informed about the progression of the work as we are barraged by numerous images, colors, theatrical vignettes, dances, text: Intro: Color Room #1 (Legs); Candy; Moons (Sitting in the Room Every Day Like a Mustard); Trans #1:why why always; Color Room #2 (Total Failure); I’m Just Trying to Help You (duet); Will I Die Soon?; I’m Sorry My Face; Landing (Hello); Face Off: Dots; Trans#2: Cracked Actor; Cosmic Pimps; and Outro: Color Room #3 (Together).

The artists have created a “dreamscape” that we enter, not knowing past, present, or future, or any conventional narrative form. We enter the reality of this environment for 70 minutes, experiencing the sights, sounds, and a suggestion of the emotions of the two characters, He and She, as they sleepwalk through existence, cut off from a normal reality. The accomplishment of this piece is that the viewer is never able to capture a literal meaning behind the work…perhaps the medium is the message. The convergence of all of these forms in space and time together succeeds in the use of the media as performer. An upside down world of inner landscape juxtaposes next to images of nature in black and white. Vast stretches of sky and ocean projected onto the stage scrim, confuse space and time. Body forms partially shown intimate intimacy never fulfilled. Death and life are confused yet as one.

Kudos to the artistic team for the bravery to approach the unattainable in reality, and for the marvelous artistic and technical talent creating images and manipulating media. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY---Mary Seidman

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