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A CurtainUp Review
Zomboid! (Film/Performance Project #1)
by Les Gutman
As we enter the Ontological Theater, we are met by familiar surroundings -- a stage dressed in the signature Foreman style. The only difference is that two large screen-walls have been installed, onto which identical static images of a woman's face are projected. Just as the show is to start, a crew member walks across the stage and removes a large box -- a wrapped present -- from which some of the contents drop -- seemingly by accident -- onto the floor. The crew member picks up what fell, and scrurries offstage.
It's the last "mistake" we will witness for the next hour. Shortly, the projected image becomes a moving one, and every action onstage becomes tethered inexorably to the forward motion of the filmed images and sound. As the film proceeds, the live action -- which is infatuated with donkeys (and you don't really need a greater explanation) -- is jerked into and out of its "reality".
As Foreman steps -- tiptoes would be an understatement -- into this "new" medium, it would seem he does so not in a cautious but rather a cautionary way. What is this power that the recorded message has on us? How do we overcome it? As various voices intone (and, as is Foreman's wont, repeat and repeat) miscellaneous postulations (the first asks "What if I were to postulate...Those things never under control are under control backwards...How would you deal with that?"), the live actors seem to take a cue from the screen actors, blindfolding and un-blindfolding each other. What Foreman wants to suggest, as his program notes detail, is that humans construct their own consciousness by editing what we let in. It's the tension between this instinct and the insistence of recorded information that is under examination. Or so it would seem.
There is no radical change in the essence of Foreman's work here -- just the addition of a new, higher-tech tool in its delivery. His cast is pretty anonymous -- both in terms of our familiarity with its members and the nature of its characters. His set and props, as well as Oana Botez-ban's consistent contumes, convey a somewhat ominous but ultimately harmless iconic landscape. And then there are those donkeys, which oftentimes seem the most expressive creatures around.
As is often the case with Foreman, and perhaps even more so this time, one leaves the theater wondering what has been witnessed, and only later (if lucky) starting to understand. Zomboid! remains engaging throughout, notwithstanding its lack of narrative, character development or even subject matter. Surely those donkeys are not metaphors; I suspect Mr. Foreman considers metaphors particularly opaque.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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