BY NATALIE ALLEN
Brutally honest, “Salesmen: A Meditation on Masculinity and the American REAL” is an example of a very abstract look at how men are viewed in society and art; and they don’t take that lightly.
The show took a while to take off, as the opening is quiet and very small, starting with one ensemble member creating the universe of the piece using tape to map out stages where the life of the show exists in many vignettes. Indeed, the actions were so small and deliberate that I found myself loosing faith that anything would happen, as “Salesmen” is only 65 minutes long and the first 15 minutes was silent and still.
Some vignettes of “Salesmen” were clever, once they got started. Using very little dialogue the show created beautiful visuals and tableaus to portray moments in theatre or film that men were expected to be the beacon of masculinity. A deliciously fun piece to watch was when two men (there were no names that I could learn, nor titles given any of the ensemble) in perfect unison, gear up to fly a plane. The clever pantomime and the sheer joy I could read on their faces as they demonstrated the choreography of flying what looked like a fighter jet was wonderfully done. Another compilation of all the men taking turns as they silently acted out a famous scene from a play of movie starring a man was fantastic and because it was so straight forward I had a grand time picking out each famous scene.
There were times I found myself totally confused. The eight ensemble members would all be out on stage talking over each other with monologues I assumed were from famous movies or plays, however, I couldn’t understand a word of what was being spoken which was really frustrating because then a pantomimed dance piece would begin and I’d have to struggle to keep up with what was happening. That may have been a choice, but the meaning was lost on me.
Beautiful uses of the HERE theatre space was satisfying to watch as tape was used to depict a male father figure on the black wall, which then affected the rest of the actors on stage. I was delighted to see eight guys allowing themselves to express their bodies and voices freely and then be changed by the father figure, which was all thought provoking and sad. It’s rare to see eight men freely be.
Director John Kurzynowski as well as the Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble created a visual piece that takes portions and snapshots of well known male-driven theatre and examine them with original vignettes and silent tableaus. “Salesmen: A Meditation on Masculinity and the American REAL” certainly made me meditate, as the title suggests, on where masculinity falls in our society, but mostly made me feel left out and confused.
Salesmen: A Meditation on Masculinity and the American REAL
Conceived and Directed by: John Kurzynowski
Created and Developed by: The Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble
WITH: Michael Barringer, Hunter Canning, Jonathan Gordon, Eben Hoffer, Patrick Scheid, Nick Smerkanich, Hugh Trimble, and Merlin Whitehawk.
Produced by: Reed Whitney
Associate Director: Lauren Swan-Potras
Sound Design: Eben Hoffer and John Kurzynowski
Lighting Design: Jonathan Cottie
Production Design: Aaron Ethan Green
Salesmen: A Meditation on Masculinity and the American REAL is playing at the HERE Theatre located at 145 6th avenue in New York, NY.
Performances run from October 24-Nov 9, 2013 (16 Performances)
Wednesday – Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm, Sunday at 7pm
Plus, Tuesday, November 5th at 7pm. (No performance on October 31)
Tickets are $18. For tickets and information visit here.org or call 212-352-3101.
Direct ticketing link: here.org/shows/detail/1276