Reviewed by Holli Harms

Perspective.

How we perceive our work, our lives, ourselves and our truths. We each have a different one.

In  [50/50] old school animation part of The Public Theatre’s Under The Radar Series the two characters have very different perspectives of themselves and their emotional lives.

The constant chaos of our time and constant dilemma of where we are in the world, in a room, in our bodies, in our heads, has distorted our connection to our emotions. Emotions, those intangible, undefinable synapses popping all around us – how do we handle them? How can we gain perspective of them?

Julia, the first to appear, tells about her desire to inflict pain and suffering on her best friend, both emotional and physical. Doing these things to her BFF connects Julia to her body, to herself. Her feelings after the inflictions are tangible and real, she is present. That palpable feeling is a desire that she wants to continue. The level of injuries intensify as Julia becomes more adept at them, as she learns what else she can do, going deeper into the feelings that the actions give her, becoming like a drug that each time needs a bigger dosage in order to give her that same first feeling.

Her perspective of self that she has discovered over time is one of evil. She sees herself as bad. She says I am, “bad.” She needs to be this, she is this.

Julia played by co-creator Julia Mounsey is a not so much a monster, but a casualty of her own misunderstandings. Her movements are precise, calculated. In her delivery she is often still. Control of her world. It is simply Julia and a microphone and her story.

The second part of this 50-minute piece is with Mo Fry Pasic. Mo we quickly understand is the friend whom the pain and suffering are being thrust upon. But she is not the unhappy victim. Mo is the carefree vapid young woman who is just looking for fun, a good time, a night out of drinking and losing herself in the drinking.

Mo Fry Pasic, Photo by Maria Baranova

Mo stands on a small platform with a screen showing a video of a parrot in its cage, on either side of her are Foley boards that she operates with sounds like phones ringing and parakeets singing and background noise of a bar. Mo’s body language is the antithesis of Julia’s. Mo bounces and dances and stumbles over her feet and words. She has the stopping, starting, jumping from thought to thought talk of an overly sugared 5th grader. She does not know that the woman she calls her Best Friend is doing all of these things to her, her perspective of her world is simply there is fun to be had and hey shit happens sometimes in the fun.

[50/50] old school animation is an unnerving, unsettling piece of theatre. A fascinating view into how easily cruelty can find its way into our lives and how sometimes we do not even recognize the abuse until it is too late.

[50/50] old school animation Created by Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey
Performed by Julia Mounsey and Mo Fry Pasic
Written by Julia Mounsey, Mo Fry Pasic, Peter Mills Weiss, and Sophie Weisskoff

Producer: Aaron Profumo, Video Designer: Matt Romein, Lighting Designer: Kate McGee
Sound Designer: Chris Masullo and Peter Mills Weiss, Set Designer: Andreea Mincic
Dramaturg: Sophie Weisskoff

Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey (USA)
[50/50] old school animation
LuEsther Hall at The Public Tickets

Friday, January 4 – Sunday, January 13
Running Time: 50 Minutes