by Holli Harms
Right now, we are more than ever, going, going, going, not human beings, but human doings. We have become lost in this constant bombardment on ourselves. Finding answers in this cacophony of the “doing” noise is impossible.
But what if there was a way to silence it all, not shush it, but actually silence it, for a short time, say for two months? Could we become for that short duration something else, something that exists for a purpose, a single purpose, in the way a yield sign is there for caution, a lamp there for light? What would you be if you could change into something with form and function, but no thought? To be transformed into an inanimate object as therapy for the noise and find new meaning in life through that transformation is the hilarious and outrageous premise for the new play For a Brief Moment I Was Something Else by Dylan Guerra and directed by Laura Dupper.
The feeling of not belonging and being left out is intense in our society. To step away and be nothing but a bookshelf or a table sounds very alluring to the characters in this existential play. The Transfigure Therapy Program is the answer to all problems and Carol (Abigail Gampel) is our enticing guide and program overseer for several clients making sure that their duration as an inanimate object is fulfilled on a daily basis. They will leave behind their old selves and after the transformation find their true new self. And the transformations all are hilariously staged and acted.
But what if that doesn’t happen as planned? What if it all goes so very wrong?
Growing as a person takes will and stamina and determination. One of the characters says, “Do you know how many times I’ve rebuilt this (their life)?” Isn’t that what we do as we grow and change, as we get our hearts broken and dreams crushed, we rebuild ourselves stronger and better, hopefully. But if you can’t anymore, if you are exhausted by the reboot then maybe a new route to rebuilding is needed.
The characters are all part of The Transfigure Therapy Program and also part of the snafu that sends them on a tailspin ride back to, well, who they were.
The staging by Ms. Dupper uses the open vast space to its advantage and the performers move through it at the speed of race cars crashing and soaring into one another. They are all solid in performance and comedic energy, at times old school vaudeville at it’s best. Holly Settoon as the quintessential teenager in the depths of teen angst and Abigial Gampel as her single mom just back from being the yield sign are pitch-perfect in the mother and daughter entanglement. And Tracey Gilbert’s portrayal of a woman who has prematurely snapped back to human from having just been a humidifier brings to mind Lucille Ball’s slapstick perfection.
The dialogue is funny, touching and smart. The issue is that it is all said and done a few times too many. At almost two hours without intermission, it could have used editing to let the play breathe and soar.
With that said…
Mr. Guerra, a new voice in the theater, is just starting his journey and I know that there will be more he has to say and do, and I look forward to all of it.
Production: Laura Dupper (Director), Emily Clarkson (Lighting Design), Matthew S. Crane (Set Design), Katie Ibrahim (Stage manager and dramaturg)
The production was part of HERE’s sublet Co-Op series. The Series is there for artists to further develop their productions without the huge production costs. The series supports artists from all over the world. It is a curated rental program where they supply rehearsal and performance space as well as technical administrative support all free with the understanding that you need to sell 20 tickets per performance. Those ticket sales are the price of the theatre rehearsal space etc… Find out more HERE about the series and how to apply.