Young lives intersect, although maybe the word "collide" is more apropos. The violence and its consequences ripple through a community. Does it take something as scorching as fire to break through the chill of life? Does it take extreme pain to get through to a generation numbed from birth?
Such is Catch, the brand new work from Transit Five Productions out of Michigan. Ambitious? Yes. Challenging? Definitely. Finished? Not yet.
Catch is everything you want from a young company doing a first-time Fringe fest. At least thematically. And with that youthful zeal the performers bring to it you can’t help but be proud to watch theater being created in front of you.
But the whole thing doesn’t quite gel. It’s clear that the collaborative process to get here was more important than the end product. Six students from the University of Michigan ably perform the work, and from the press notes we’re told they very much had their hands in its creation.
You could see how insightful improv skills led to certain scenes and exchanges. The performers are so comfortable with the material and with each other the troupe showcases every bit the skill of any group in the Fringe.
It comes back to the work itself, credited as being written by Seth Moore and co-directed by Moore and Julia Albain. It spends a great deal of time setting up interesting stories and characters, but it never clearly lets the audience in on what’s going on. Perhaps the point wasn’t to create linear storytelling. But given the weighty subject matter and the capable performers, one wishes it were more accessible.
That might be too much to ask of the piece, which clearly has its roots in experimental theater. It blends a little bit of every convention in the book from Greek chorus narration to 21st-century video interaction. There’s even a not-so-subtle commentary about waterboarding thrown in for good measure.
It all serves to illustrate the many stimuli facing Generation Y and how the multitude of voices can overwhelm a mind already on the brink of breakdown.
“You’re in a stall right now, aren’t you,” one character asks another.
“Yes, aren’t you?”
It’s an interesting word choice. A stall, as in an interruption. Can the characters kick-start their lives before the stall becomes permanent?
Some want to. At least want to try. Others, led by the disillusioned Gabriel, are less inclined, thinking the state of the world doesn’t justify the effort. When Britney Spears’ vagina is more important and given more airtime than the real news of the day, Gabriel decides that the world deserve its violence.
The actors are all solid, especially when asked to vacillate between roles and theatrical styles. Special notice goes to Ali Kresch, who brings a confident sense of humor to the odd role of the nurse and then switches to the mysterious and devilish Makayla.
Opening night also revealed some technical issues between the video and audio that need to be worked out. The same can be said of the piece — it’s close, but it needs some streamlining to match the bravery and conviction of its young creators.
— Rodger Pille