Car Martyr--Alaska | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Car Martyr--Alaska


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Car Martyr--Alaska, at Red Bones Theatre.

If poets, not comedians, attempted the improvisational exercise called the Harold, the results might resemble Sean Farrell's Car Martyr--Alaska. The plot is Beckett-bare: a young woman sitting on a bench by the beach is joined by a young man who progressively refuses then threatens to leave her.

Farrell's script reveals that this man and woman are intellectual constructs, however, not actual human beings: the dialogue is a self-conscious montage of words and themes in which nouns bloom spontaneously into clusters of related images. The actors' stilted, formal delivery, punctuated by occasional bursts of violent emotion, doesn't come close to natural speech. Farrell's kaleidoscopic language can confuse the relationship and identities of the characters: Is he her repressed self? Or her uncertain adult persona who must nevertheless be assumed? Is he her faithful childhood companion who must be left behind? Yet the synchronicity of their verbal meanderings implies, rather than establishes, a continuity that makes the wrap-up satisfying.

One would be hard put to explain why, however; and some of Farrell's wordplay in this two-hour piece is purely decorative. Eventually one can even play ahead of the game onstage. Nevertheless, any playwright who can juggle this many metaphors and still catch them all when they come down bears watching.

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