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It’s Not Easy Being Green
Redrum at Fort Fringe
Saturday, July 11 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, July 18 at 10 pm.
Wednesday, July 22 at 7 p.m.
Friday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m.
They say: “Lock five playwrights in oversized compost bins, and demand plays about the expanding ‘green’ movement. What do you get? Mountains of compost, five smelly playwrights, and a Fringe Festival entry. Come explore the sad truth: It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
Hilary’s take: There are no oversized compost bins or playwrights onstage. In fact, “they say” nothing about the production’s actual content. Here’s what they should’ve said: “Lock a sold out audience in steamy Redrum to absorb one shaky modern dance and four didactic sketches by five (smelly?) playwrights. What do you get? Bludgeoned by morality and a surprise sales pitch in our attempt to expand the ‘green’ movement.”
That said, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend exploring It’s Not Easy Being Green. For the simple truth that it is easy, very easy, to be ‘green’, despite what the forced conflict of each of the four allegories would mislead one to believe (I’m not even gonna touch that modern dance). In Manifesto, playwright Catherine O’Connor conjures an artist (Q. Terah Jackson) who’s written the titular declaration of his desire to destroy all his material goods to “radically recontextualize the consumer experience.” As his gallery-provided assistant films the “art” happening, a homeless man (a superb Slice Hicks) confronts the stripped down artist and his binned $3,000 leather jacket. What ensues is the first of the production’s de rigueur didactic verbal spars, wherein the assumed-to-be-clueless audience is taught to value action over ideation in matters of the planet.
In sketches Driving Green, by Martin Blank, and Use Unknown, by Ali Watson, global warming wreaks havoc on humanity — one couple in a Prius and all of human kind, respectively. But Ben Kingsland’s Trash Talk, about an anthropomorphic garbage can and recycling bin kicked to the curb too early for pick up, was by far the best sketch. In the best performances of the evening, Carolyn Sagatov plays the bad girl trash can to Mary C. Davis’s goody-goody ‘green’ shoes. Shortly after the playground put-downs commence — “You stink!” — the ladies find common ground: a mutual “thing” for Compost Pile. “He’s so down to earth!”
Although the acting was stiff in a few spots, and all the conclusions of the allegories-cum-fables predictable from the moment that rhapsodic street sweeper twirled across the stage (seriously, modern dance = out of my tolerance league), I never once thought about walking out. My mind didn’t even wander to what drinks I’d order afterward, or how my laundry needs doing, &c. Despite this trite treatment of the ‘green’ theme, the the parochial production held my critical attention. Sure, I was stewing over the painfully half-assed conflicts and deus ex machina-like logical conclusions the whole time. But I was mentally engaged nonetheless. And to me, that’s the hallmark of good theater.
See it if: You know nothing about the ‘green’ movement and are “kinda curious, I guess,” you enjoy constant reaffirming of your moral high ground after purchasing a Prius, or you’re looking for a tepid yet socially conscious fringe show to attend with your child.
Skip it if: You don’t enjoy surprise sales pitches, no matter if the outdoorsman-turned-eco building materials expert whips out a blow torch and melts metal in his bare, outstretched hand. (Be forewarned: At the end of each show, Journeymen invite an eco ‘expert’ for a 10-minute lecture on how you can do your part to save the planet. Last night, Keith Ware from Eco-Green Living tried to sell us ceramic insulation, and roofing as thin as a dime!)