Crowd ready. Butts on their seats. Cell Phones off (hopefully.) An announcement to make sure everyone knows the etiquette of watching a theatrical production, and to ask for the audience to please follow it. Now the lights dim till there’s complete darkness. What comes next is pretty routine, the lights come back up and the show starts. Many with a monologue, many more with one character preparing themselves for the next scene. Yeah, no, that’s not how Trish Harnetiaux’s play “How to get Into Buildings” introduces us to the world in stage. They use an old trick, but not in the old way. Somebody once told me while in playwriting class that you want to start in a very explosive way and then calm down. Now that could work, but is not necessary for every play. See, this one starts with a big moment, but the moment is not as big as you think. Hell, you may not even really understand it. But you know what is going on.
There has been a car accident, two people are lying on the floor, everyone else using flashlights to look at the wreck. Then POP, the woman on the floor starts breathing like a fish. This will come back later to explain while they no longer have the Red Snapper special at the restaurant one of the couples go to. It had a car accident. What is the play about? Love, relationships, the beginning and the end of them. Can you tell from the scene? No, but you can tell what it is trying to convey. And that is this play’s greatest strength, the use of absurd situations to tell a simple plot, a simple event we all can relate to. Director Katherine Brook doesn’t waste any steps on this New Georges production. Meticulously reckless, the actors own each foot of that stage with characters so surreal that meeting one would freak you out in real life, but they are in real life. They are all around us. It is us, dealing with a traumatic event, and making sense of it. Absurdists plays don’t often work, especially contemporary ones, most of them stink of pretentiousness, but this one does not. While it may not be crystal clear in its message, it is easy to understand, and then piece together. It is both extremely entertaining and heartbreaking, I laughed the ninety minutes.
While the incredible cast and wonderful directing should be praised for their work, the design team was just as important. The set was vivid, it popped, kept you watching, it let the actors move smoothly and the transitions be effective. Honestly all you can ask from a set was there. The sounds excelled at creating a perfect atmosphere, not one of them felt out of place, all of them felt like beats from a drum. It was like seeing an orchestra play a gorgeous dissonance that resonates.
I don’t know what else to say but to urge you to go to The Brick in Williamsburg and watch. To say more about it would be a disservice to the people working on it. This is a formidable new play that could use your support, and I’m sure you can use a good production. It will be up till the 19th, plenty of time to go and enjoy.
Out of 4 stars:
Twisted Talk: Have you seen any New Georges productions before? What did you think? Discuss below!