Clearly a lot of thought and time went into the Brick Theatre’s production of “Purchase.” Unfortunately, I spent most of the show trying to work out what was happening and failing to keep up with the futuristic english syntax that Writer and Director Ian W. Hill wrote in this very confusing post-modern commentary on over-bearing governments.
We meet Lady Stephanie Anderssen (Alyssa Simon) in her living room as she furiously tries to negotiate with an unknown person on the other end of the ear piece into which she’s yelling. I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on and I felt frustrated because there must be exposition in there I missed.
Lights go down and then up (which happens about 50 more times throughout the piece) as Colonel Simonette Allyson (Anna Stefanic) stands straight-backed in Lady Anderssen’s room and greets the Lady with a surprise visit as we then learn that there is a revolution going on and the Lady is backing the insurgency with a lot of money. The Colonel, who represents the oppressive government that might be overthrown, was sent to pin down where Lady Anderssen’s money is going, and why, and can’t she just stop doing it? And they’ll kill her! And this is where I lost track of what was happening for the duration of the 100 minute show.
The staging was full of emotion and was meant to express a great deal, I am sure, however, due to the fifty black outs which included (but not limited to) costume changes, props being moved on and off, blocking, and scene changes (including a dream scape that took me three times to realize that it was a dream) as well as fast-forwards and replays of scenes we’d already seen, I felt completely baffled by what story I was supposed to follow. There was a cool two-way mirror that was utilized as a way to tell more of the plot (that went completely over my head), but after a long winded story laced with metaphors about two houses crumbling, I felt even more confused.
Alyssa Simon and Anna Stefanic were very comfortable with each other, and as “Purchase” shuffles onwards a mentorship between the Colonel and the Lady is struck up. There’s even a very impressive piano piece played by Anna Stefanic (which I thought was the best part of the show). What was lacking with that comfort between the two actresses was any spontaneity, as the two seemed to not be affected by each other at all, leaving me wondering what the stakes were when Lady Stephanie Anderssen holds a gun up to Colonel Simonette Allyson’s neck (which also happens three times) as a threat to kill her.
Ian W. Hill took a stab at a look into a post-modern, futuristic, Sci-Fi world full of the dangers of revolution and instability and in that universe the stakes are always high and begs the question: “who can you trust?” That is, unless there are two women who talk at each other for 100 minutes and threaten each other non-stop with future-style syntax that leaves the audience wondering: what’s the point?
PURCHASE at the Brick Theater through November 23rd.