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The Mountain at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church
Saturday, July 12 at 10:15 p.m.
Friday, July 18, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 20 at 4 p.m.
Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 26 at 1 p.m.
They say: A new dark comedy about surveillance and interrogation by the creator of the Fringe hits Krapp’s Last PowerPoint, Edible Rex, The Bird, The Pundit and The Politician. “Feffer is a brilliant writer and performer,” says the Washington City Paper. [But who reads that? — Ed.]
Caroline’s take: Calling Interrogation a comedy about surveillance doesn’t quite capture its essence. Yes, it features plentiful pauses for laughter and explores the questionable ways the government collects information about its citizens, but this isn’t a playful romp about security contractors sneaking peeks at strangers’ browser histories. John Feffer dips into much more sinister territory when he portrays an independent contractor capable questioning and evaluating the behavior of anyone he meets.
While the final result, aided by a final twist that ties the whole thing together, is thought-provoking, it takes a while for all the pieces to add up. Feffer assumes the identity of John Miller, a southern gentleman who does private security work for the government. He starts by talking about stand-up comedy and storytelling, then diverges into a discussion of doctors, dates, and chronic headaches. It’s not quite clear where the performance is going, leading to a lot of awkward pauses and rattling chairs.
Things get more interesting when “random audience members” (read: planted actors) are pulled on stage. Feffer questions them about everything from where they had meetings to world capitals and while their performances are not entirely convincing, watching Feffer probe them allows the audience to see where the whole story leads. When the tables turn and Feffer receives the interrogation, the performance gets really juicy. It’s unfortunate that this doesn’t occur until after an hour of meandering commentary.
The listless beginning is exacerbated by a few execution problems. The slides that accompany the show appear out of order and Feffer’s overly accented Southern drawl (ear is “ee-uh,” jerk is “juhk) distracts from rather than adds to the character. Every element requires just a little polish, something that should come with subsequent performances. In this age of ubiquitous surveillance, Feffer’s show reminds us to be more vigilant, despite its technical maladies.
See it if: Your interest in contemporary interrogation practices lasts more than an hour.
Skip it if: You prefer serious surveillance news provided by Barton Gellman and ld.