City Paper is not for tourists
Playing at: Logan Fringe Arts Space: Upstairs
Remaining Performances: July 16 at 4:45 p.m., July 21 at 6:15 p.m., July 24 at 12:15 p.m. Tickets available here.
They Say: The terrifying story of a human female trying to find love, occupation and yoga in a sinister company surrounded by holographic projections, threatening memories and/or simulated humanoid robots bent on lust, conspiracy, suicide, alcoholism, domination and mind bending erotic arguments.
Becky’s Take: AS IT WERE and/or WHAT (ever) DOESN’T MATTER is an experimental play that uses a loose plot to explore themes like relationships and technology. Throughout much of it, time stands still while the main character, Chelsea (Chuthachinee Juntranggur), relives memories or thinks out loud. But these reveries are hard to follow and poorly tied to the action with the other characters, making Chelsea’s examination of the play’s main themes unsatisfying. Her musings on “Facebook” and “urban life” feel less like insights, and more like the playwright is just checking off buzzwords.
The plot, as much as there is one, goes like this: Chelsea is a human who works at a company that has something to do with weapons manufacturing. After calling her boss (Nick Torres) a “dick,” he fires her, and she retaliates by shooting him. But he doesn’t die, because he’s an android—a fact that she didn’t seem to be aware of.
The building’s security guard (Shaun Johnson), also an android, shows up to investigate the gunfire. Later another human (Stephen Notes) who works in the building shows up to try to convince Chelsea to have sex with him. At some point there is a revelation that everyone who works in the building, besides the four main characters, is a hologram.
Much of the acting in this play is quite good, and there are certainly some funny lines. (“Just ‘cause I’m a robot doesn’t mean I know about technology. That’s so racist.”) But the show’s structure doesn’t do these good bits of dialogue any service. In the beginning, it takes at least 15 minutes to get a sense of what is actually going on in the play—that’s a lot of time in a 45-minute production.
Some of play’s issues, though, are more than structural. Too many parts seem random. Why does the play emphasize Chelsea’s interest in yoga? Why, in one scene, do all four of the actors suddenly start talking about whether, where, and how they masturbate? Much like Chelsea, the audience is left feeling scattered.
See it if: You like plays that don’t necessarily make sense.
Skip it if: You like to walk away from a play feeling a sense of catharsis.