An exploration of divorce and disconnection in California, PANDÆMONIUM begins with explosions and fire. As we enter, the performers lie still in folding chairs, flanked by ridiculous mannequins. In the pre-show video, showing on a massive central video screen, pieces of garbage exploded from a central point soar gradually through open air, their creeping arcs captured in slow-mo. Once these settle, the video shifts to a sprawling home built into the side of a mountain, a la North by Northwest, being blown up. Fire blossoms between rock slabs. This is shown again and again from different angles, evoking the distant radioactive clouds and big band music from the final moments of Dr. Strangelove.
The performers, Nichole Canuso and Geoff Sobelle, rise and find their ways to tables at opposite ends of the stage. A live feed of them is layered so the two tables are on top one another and it appears, through deft videography, that they are sitting together. The image on the screen is hazy at its edges, a world without confinement, a square of red tablecloth floating in the dark, boundless desert night. Their separation is doubled by the choreography. Though they are close, the two look through one another, or over, or beyond. They are lost in thought in the desert night, surrounded by darkness. They share a single space but they do not acknowledge one another. When they stand up to walk away—in unison, but without consulting one another—their hips nearly touch. They are energetically bound, too close to see one another. The live feed, coming from cameras at the back corners of the stage, creates a weird optical mapping. We have three perspectives on the space: our own, from the audience, and then one from each back corner. When they move away, they move closer.
[Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey]. September 14-18, 2016. fringearts.com/pandaemonium.