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A CurtainUp Review
By Jenny Sandman
review continues below
The 3LD Art & Performance Technology Center has been rendered into Fire Island, without all the sand. Beach chairs and pillows are scattered around the floor, with occasional coolers of free beer and soda. Free hot dogs are available from a sidewalk vendor before the show begins. All four walls show a different continuous video feed, and the live band is set up in the corner.
It's within a very comfortable, very casual space that the play unfolds at a leisurely pace. Live performance being a small part of the whole, most of the "action" takes place on the video screens. The live actors pick their way through the crowd as they perform and the musicians have small roles as well.
Each scene, both live and video, is only a few minutes long at most. In its entirety, Fire Island involves 108 artists— including a Tuvan throat singer, drag queens and a freak clown.
At its core, however, the work is about relationships and the frailty and fickleness of human emotion. Every person is in some stage of a relationship. Some of these relationships are just beginning, some are ending, some are in that awkward place just before ending, and some will never happen at all. The delicate ecosystem of the humans informs that of this barrier island. Fire Island itself is a character since much of the video feeds are shots of boardwalks, tall grasses, the beach, the waves, the sky, all the parts of what makes this such a popular summer destination.
Fire Island succeeds where Mee's last production, Paradise Park at Signature Theater, failed. While this, like other Mee plays also involved multimedia aspects, it seemed little more than a jumble of ideas and characters. While Fire Island also contains its own jumble of characters, the production is lithe and erudite, and somehow more than the sum of its parts.
The nontraditional seating and atmosphere, and no doubt the free beer, keeps the audience relaxed and engaged as they probably would not be in a more formal, traditional setting. To this fan of Mee's work, Fire Island is a rare marriage of material and production which director Kevin Cunningham weaves into an exuberant whole.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide