Lawrence Harbison, our very own critic, ordinarily brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York; but since the New York theatre is closed down for the foreseeable future, in this column Larry reports a show you can stream on your computer or other preferred gizmo.
And now for something completely different: TheatreWorks Hartford is streaming their production of Amy Berryman’s Walden but unlike other streamed productions I have seen during the Pandemic, this one takes place outdoors. The set is a cabin in the woods with actual woods as its backdrop, with an adjacent chicken coop. The audience (socially distanced, of course) is given headphones. It’s a brilliant device which greatly enhances the intimacy of this very intimate play.
The play is set in the near future and focuses on two sisters—Stella, a “space architect” and Cassie (short for Cassiopeia), an astronaut. Stella and her boyfriend Bryan, whose cabin we peer into, are endeavoring to make a brave, sustainable new world. There have been major advances in space exploration as well as a burgeoning environmental movement called Earth Advocates, and much of the play concerns arguments about how to save our planet, the merits/demerits of space colonialization and synthetic foods, and if it is more ethical, even possible, to live with no electricity.
Director Mei Ann Teo has created a unique form of site-specific theatre, assisted brilliantly by her designers, most notably You-shin Chen, whose cramped cabin set greatly enhances the intimacy of the play and sound designer Hao Bai, who makes you feel almost as if you are in the cabin with these fascinating characters. The actors, Diana Oh (Stella), Jeena Yi (Cassie) and Gabriel Brown (Bryan) are all first rate.
While we wait for live, indoor theatre to get going again, you couldn’t do better than stream Walden. Tickets: Buy: Walden (IN PERSON) (force.com)
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”