Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Tale << winks>> at life's dangers

Offbeat piece opens Playhouse series

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Beware No. 10 envelopes - just one of many icons of urban danger and adventure in <<wink>>, a shaggy dog of an urban myth/Twilight Zone tale that opened alteractive, Playhouse in the Park's annual winter series that showcases the new and different. The series plays on Monday evenings in the Rosenthal Plaza.

The highly caffeinated Amelia Campbell and Kimberleigh Weiss play two urban dwellers, each with her own strange story, which somehow manages to be told in black and white despite being performed live in living color.

The women wear sleeveless black sheathes over sweat pants, in front of a screen where brief bits of in-the-streets-style (that is, black and white, choppily edited and shot on a diagonal) Super 8 film set the scene - primarily the local diner where one sips soup and the hardware store. What you need to know is - if you think someone's watching you, you're right.

Campbell and Weiss each perform a monologue (with occasional assists from the other actress), which are separate but manage to interweave. Between them, it's clear that there is something very strange going on, and it has to do with New Yorkers living their everyday lives oblivious to the fact that they're missing body parts.

They also meet a number of strange characters, including a modern-day Cyclops (who has a taste for human tootsies the way some people scarf down wasabe peas), and sing a duet as a pair of "Gun Metal Gray Cats," which is no feline threat to "Mine" from Sylvia's Real Good Advice or the Siamese cat song from Lady & the Tramp.

Writer/director Donny Levit delivers a playful script that is purposefully precise (about details) and oblique (about what it all means), making real (and welcome) demands on the audience.

Levit's approach is minimalist, but for my money <<wink>> would have been more fun if it had made more use of multimedia, particularly film.

The best thing about the alteractive series is that it is about creating and imagining, and invites us to see what performing artists from across the U.S. are thinking about and doing.

Next up: the don't-miss Beowulf by Charlie Bethel, 7 p.m. Monday (one performance only). Information and reservations: 421-3888.


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