With thematic inspiration from Chekhov’s The Three Sisters and conceptual influence from performance art, the piece dissects the mind – memories, emotions, joys, and especially frustrations – of a woman reflecting on her life from the vantage point of old age.
One younger self (Tina Benko) obsessively positions and repositions a floor to stand on, and eventually bursts forth in a birthday celebration worthy of Karen Finley. Another (Auden Thornton) walks and then runs back and forth, back and forth to exhaustion, getting nowhere.
Meanwhile her present-day self (Judith Roberts) sits on a stool mutely passing through a world of emotions, her face projected in giant close-up on a movie-theater-sized screen. Can we also see Chekhov’s Olga, Marina, and Irina in the motions and frustrations of the three characters and the imagery of their travails? In an abstract sense, sure. But Roberts’s beautiful, looming face, lined with age, cares, and the abrasions of memory, contains multitudes; her silent character subsumes all we see and hear.
Findlay’s soundscapes and music grow slowly, from the quiet ticking of a clock to a frenetic cacophony of bangs, squeaks, and synthesizer howls, a crescendo of terrible tension, which finally releases when our heroine breaks through her frustration in a comically dramatic birthday bash.
But she gets no lasting catharsis. Long after the audience has gotten its gratification, she keeps preening, desperate for applause however awkwardly bestowed. Her and our discomfort increases as the camera follows her down into a figurative id state. I found myself literally grinding my teeth.
Which isn’t a usual way to recommend a show. But this hour-plus of insidious, challenging weirdness lands its punch squarely in the gut. It runs through December 12. Tickets are availalbe online or call 866-811-4111.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0140447334][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00009MEJH]