THE ADULTS (New Paradise Laboratories): Fringe Review 20.2

New Paradise Laboratories The Adults Fringe

Photo by plate3photography.

Whit MacLaughlin is going off the deep end with this one.  Are you willing to jump in with him? New Paradise Laboratories’ handsomely crafted, meticulously acted, and totally weird production, is not easily accessible. Nothing much can be taken literally here, and the production doesn’t reward searching for specific meanings as it creates its own tilted world with its own skewed logic. In this new place where vestiges of remembered pieces of theatrical and fine art commingle, normal rules of behavior hold no sway.  The show drifts in and out of similarities with Chekhov’s The Seagull: Alex (Matteo Scammell), a young writer, is trying to work when his mother and her chic film people, unwelcome guests, arrive to disturb his peace and to party.  Wiszie (Matt Saunders) has been lurking, awaiting the vacationers’ arrival at this lakeside house. Puck-like, he will surreptitiously control aspects of activity and environment. Throughout, much is shown and little is spoken, except for Henry’s (Jeb Kreager ) amusing foodie recitations and his drunken explanation of how Prohibition led to NASCAR.  And eventually Alex’s play, like Treplev’s dystopian little play in The Seagull, will be read.

In the hallucinatory and languorous climate of the lake house, bizarre parodies of adult conduct rule, like uber-excessive drinking and attempting seductions. Going well beyond normal adult behavior, the company doesn’t act childish either, for while children can be whimsical, they’re usually quite practical and sensible. It’s a work of art: Sophisticated staging, influenced by Eric Fischl’s indolent paintings with an underlying buzz, boasts splendid lighting and stunning video projections. And the carryings on, which get out of hand, are lent importance by masterful and controlling sound design that underlines –possibly— significant moments.  [Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St.] September 3-14, 2014, http://fringearts.com/event/the-adults-2/.

Check out Chris Munden’s review here.

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About the author

Kathryn Osenlund, theater and film junkie, is a former National Critics Institute fellow, NEA fellow in Arts Journalism, and member of the American Theater Critics Assn Steinberg and Osborn playwriting awards committee. A Barrymore Award nominator and professor emeritus in communications and theater, Kathryn also writes for NY-based CurtainUp.com. On twitter @theatrendorphin.