A bit disjointed, with long transitions, Geoff Sobelle’s contribution to this year’s Fringe Festival is best seen as a collection of short meditations on—or parodies of—clutter, large and small. The upstairs stage/basketball court at Christ Church Neighborhood House has been turned into a cardboard paradise. Corrugated towers obscure the walls; couches, stools, and banks of benches are made out of cardboard. “Feel free to explore,” say the audience guides as they let you in—meaning, feel free to dig around the multitude of open boxes, finger the nicknacks and scarves and old photos. Feel free to turn a box into a seat, or switch the lamps on and off, or rearrange the room however you’d like.
Once you do find a seat, don’t expect to be there for long. Sobelle plays where he wants to, popping living rooms and romantic dinners out of boxes which seemed empty, and dragging his audience with him from end to end of the big open space. THE OBJECT LESSON explores the way that objects define, limit, or grow us; at the same time it is a magic act, with the silliness and self-deprecation of a Woody Allen movie and the slapstick and sarcasm of a Groucho Marx act. Sobelle at turns reminisces, dances, jokes, and mourns, all through the medium of the objects within reach. He also chops up a salad with ice skates, which is certainly among the best moments of this year’s Fringe. [Christ Church Neighborhood House]. September 12-21, 2013. livearts-fringe.org/festival/2013/the-object-lesson.