Due to an unfortunate behind-my-back-collaboration of my professors to all ironically schedule mid-terms a week after the middle of the term, I was not able to catch the first week of “Well” by Lisa Kron. Therefore it was tonight that I chose to stroll to the RTV building for the 2nd week premiere, tonight that the ticketing system crashed, and tonight that the lobby of the Forum theater was should to shoulder with eager theater goers.
After a 57 person waiting list and a Price is Right style call into the theater, I was finally seated for the show that’s anticipation only heightened my speculation of its inherent quality. To be frank, the show sets itself up for attention failure. The audience is introduced to a set with quarter of a kitschy living room, an older woman asleep on the prominently displayed lazy-boy, and premonitions that the entirety of the play will be a one woman monologue with occasional grunts from the aforementioned older woman stationed in her over sized chair.
My doubts continued further as this play turned into one that I am at best tolerant of: an interactive play. The main character, Lisa Kron, jabbed at the audience for feedback as the woman in the chair, her mother Ann Kron, attempted to engage the audience with off-handed stories. I was ready for an hour and 45 minutes of awkward armrest hockey with my fellow seat partners when the interaction turned to tossing mini bags of chips into the now captive audience.
Although cliché to admit that the play took a turn at this early juncture, it was the defining moment where the audience was given the silent que that they could in fact laugh with, and at the characters that were being portrayed on stage. It is also at this point that other actors were given a role in the story, giving Lisa some interaction, and Ann some entertainment from her perch in the corner of the stage.
The play accelerated uphill as the character’s dynamics began to capture the audience individually as well as melt into each other with a certain odd harmony. Although there were some heavy topics covered (this production is in fact centered on the idea of wellness and integration) this was mostly done in conjunction with humor that exemplified the subject matter as well as allowed some air of relief to touchy areas.
This “theatrical exploration” as referred to by Lisa, was unlike any play I have seen. This unconventional experiment gave alternative layers to the actors on stage as they took on multiple roles layered together to skew the line between actor and onstage character. The best way to describe the sometimes confusing process is to compare it to a conscious dream. The characters were aware that they were participating in a play just like sometimes you are aware that you are actually confined to the limitations of a dream.
I was thrilled that the play exceeded my expectations as emotions were tugged just as often as laughter was encouraged. “Well” will play again this Thursday and Friday night at 8pm in the Forum theatre located just a staircase down from the main entrance. Get there early to avoid the wait list (although the dramatic name calling was worth the extra 10 minute wait).