Platanov, or the Disinherited

“After doing a TV show or a film, working with (director) Jay (Scheib) feels like a necessity,” says Sarita Choudhury in a recent interview. “His work is so physical and allows you to break all rules of realism, except of course the emotional ones.” That sounds like fun! And yet, it wasn’t. What it was was FRUSTRATING. Yes, the physicality and rule-breaking are there. (Actor Jon Morris, a former diving champion, hurtles through the air and made me wince every single time he hit the floor. He plays Sergey as a sort of melange of characters from The Dukes of Hazzard, which is a great, wacky choice.) But at the same time, the production feels claustrophobic, bound by its own artifice, the actors’ work severely limited by frenetic blocking, gimmicky staging and deliberately stilted language. Again and again and again during the piece, I wanted to yell, “WHY??” The seemed-like-it-was-going-to-be-exciting premise of the production — a live-action play being filmed and simultaneously projected above the stage AND at a movie theater – turns out to be utterly ineffective for the theater audience.  Yes, I get it: you’ve created a set of four rooms which are NOT fully visible to the audience, so we are forced to watch the live action on the screen above the stage, as it is filmed by the roving cameraman (Scheib himself). Not being able...

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