Arts, culture, ideas & expression of a few wild art monkeys living in an arts loft in Jersey City.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Love, fate, and Karaoke.

I had the pleasure of seeing the show 'Interviewing the Audience' on Sunday afternoon. It was like no theatre I have seen before, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. I stumbled into the cozy theatre with the usual Sunday matinee crowd, if you've been to a show on a Sunday afternoon you'll know that its full of an older more 'dignified' type of people.

It opened with the interviewer, Zach Helm (best known for writing Stranger than Fiction and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) introducing the show. He laid out the structure of the piece explaining we all had entered into an unspoken contract to be potentially interviewed, he also gave us his background with the show and told us about when he saw Spalding Gray (who originally created the piece for the Wooster group) perform in years earlier. Tracing the lineage of the production was a nice touch, it laid the ground for a very personal experience.

This particular show will never be the same, which was told to us often, because it is based on the responses of three randomly chosen audience members. This initially felt like a bit of a crap shoot; what if the people chosen just weren't interesting? It soon transpired that Mr. Helm had a way with getting people to speak, not that he really had to during this particular show. The first gentleman who entered the frightful position of interviewee appeared immediately at ease. He loved to talk and regaled us with tales of a life lived to its fullest with his childhood sweetheart and now wife.

The second 'guest' on our little talk show was a life long fan of Mr. Helm, he was awkward but eloquent and you could see that he wasn't used to the spotlight. He was considerably younger than the first participant and as such told us about his career and aspirations. He was full of quirky anecdotes about being in the right place at the right time, especially interesting was a tale about his second date with his current girlfriend. On this date they ended up late at night doing karaoke with Guillermo del Toro (director of Hellboy, Pans Labyrinth and many more). Towards the end he made a very heartfelt remark about his girlfriend, she had told him a story about when she was 7 and he stated, I was trying to picture her at 7 and I knew then that I wanted to be with her when she was 70.

Our third guest was an older woman who had chosen a career over love. She was kind and soft spoken, but it was hard to get long answers out of her.

The whole experience was unfortunately tainted by an old woman who misunderstood the whole experience altogether and kept yelling things out. My other qualm was Mr. Helms desire to interject with his own stories, although interesting, they took away from the people we had been getting to know. Many people have referred to this as similar to a talk show, and it was, but I think they took it too far with the set design. It was forced and a little over dressed.

At the end of the piece we are again addressed and our host concluded by summing it all up, he also apologized for repeating a question in two interviews which seemed unnecessary. A performer of any sort should never apologize for what they do, it showed he was uncertain, and after such a sure performance it left a little doubt about whether our host was confident with what he just presented. He should have been confident, because it was a delightful experience.

All in all it is definitely worth a visit to Union Square to see. It runs through Feb 27th and you can visit the website for tickets.


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