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A CurtainUp Review
Ads (Under the Radar Festival)
By Miriam Colin
Richard Maxwell has long been one of those love him but don't quite get him playwrights. Ads, his contribution to the Under the Radar Festival is no exception.
You get the sense of sitting rather than standing at an art gallery specializing in multi-media art . Like other avante-garde theater pieces expect video to be used. These overall scuttling of the traditional theater experience is exacerbated by the fact that while Maxwell's script features some 40 characters they appear only as seen via a 3-D projector. In short, there are no actors on stage.
Still with me? So here's what to expect. You'll hear these projected stand-ins for real actors address a miscellany of issues, with some emphasis on basic belief systems. Some of the more intriguing speakers, none of whom have names, are a Buddhist-musician; a woman who counts up her use of the word believe in her accummulated e-mails.
Does the title have some deep meaning? Probably it's because much of what you hear sounds like proselitizing or advertising copy, with one speaker actually cautioning the audience not to identify him with a salesman Maxwell fans will buy text and context as profound and poetic others will be frustrated enough to introduce some live action by walking out before the hour long show's end.
If you go without expectations of what performance may be, Ads may win your admiration even when the script is often as banal as-- well, as an ad that holds you just enough so that you won't miss the fast forward button.
Other Radar Festival productions reviewed: Husbands. . .Once and For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And ListenO. Chekhov Lizardbraiwhen it played in Philadelphia and in a previous incarnation Off-Broadway. For a list of all festival plays see the Public Theater's website: http://www.publictheater.org/
Editor's Note: Curtainup has followed Richard Maxwell's trail for more than ten years, with our most avid Maxwell enthusiast, Les Gutman covering all but two, and those by downtown theater watcher Jenny Sandman who recently moved to California. Les, who wasn't available to review Ads would probably be more up on it than Miriam, as would Jenny. Reading their reviews, linked below, may help Maxwell newbies become intrigued enough to check where they stand on Ads for themselves.
Cowboys and Indians with Strahs, Jim
Drummer Wanted (2010)
People Without History(2009)
Showy Lady Slipper