[26] LIFE AND TIMES: EPISODE 1 (Nature Theater of Oklahoma): Fringe review

Life and Times, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Fringe review
Photo credit: Reinhard Werner, courtesy of Burgtheater Wien

From the supremely innovative New York company that brought the hilarious Romeo and Juliet to the 2011 Philly Fringe, LIFE AND TIMES: EPISODE 1 begins a twelve-hour five-part marathon on the ordinary life of Kristin Worrall, Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s sound designer. Worrall was asked, “Can you tell me your life story?”—and oh boy, did she! The unedited transcript of her saga, replete with all the “ums,” “uhs,” “you knows,” “likes,” digressions, and asides, is presented by the ten-member ensemble in a mock serious, highly theatrical, semi-operatic musical extravaganza that contrasts with the commonplace content. The concept is equivalent to Andy Warhol’s elevation of the banal soup can to an icon of Pop culture, as the very relatable autobiographical narrative gives insight into the personal significance one woman placed on all the quotidian events and unexceptional remembrances that made her who she is today—and by extension, make us the people we are.

The 210-minute EPISODE 1, which traces Worrall’s early years from birth to third grade, is nothing short of remarkable, with the hysterically funny cast not only singing all the lines verbatim, in fine voice, both solo and in harmony, but also playing an original live score and executing lively non-stop choreography that parody Broadway musicals and chorus lines. The epic-length text is projected behind the performers on two digital flat screen TVs, unseen by them, for the audience to follow along and to marvel at their extraordinary memorization skills and their rapid-fire delivery of Worrall’s disjointed thoughts, never once missing an “uh” or a beat or a synchronized movement. But behind all the laughter lies a very serious message: the seemingly mundane episodes that we store in our memory banks and wrack our brains to recall—about family, friends, accomplishments and embarrassments—reveal our deeply embedded opinions and attitudes, inform our interpersonal relationships, and create our lingering self-image. LIFE AND TIMES is not just extremely entertaining, it’s exceptionally profound. [The Wilma Theater] September 10-14, 2013, fringearts.ticketleap.com/life-and-times-episodes-1-5

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