What is X?
By Paul Atreides
Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
X by Alistair McDowall is…bizarre. Call it experimental theatre, call it modernist, call it a psychological drama, call it whatever you wish. Heck, label it avant-garde. You would be right. But you might also be wrong because it’s likely every person in the audience will have a different opinion.
In 1958, the Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter wrote, “There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false."
So it goes with X.
Four people – no, wait, it could be five, or maybe it’s six – are trapped on Pluto in a biosphere waiting to be picked up and taken home to an Earth that no longer exists. A few of the crew are old enough to remember when the birds fell from the trees, and seeing the last tree put on a truck and carried away. Communication from the Home Base has ceased. For how long is unknown because the clock has long since stopped keeping proper time and eventually produces gibberish. But after all, what is time? It may be X, or it may not.
Now, for purposes of the script, forget all that. The four may be trees as they struggle to survive in a climate-ravaged, inhospitable environment one by one.
Under the direction of Jake Staley for A Public Fit, besides some unmotivated blocking, production values are top-notch. Breon Jenay, Nicole Unger, Joshua Berg, Ryan Ruckman, Timothy Burris, and Roxanne Weller make up the talented ensemble taking the journey into this odd sci-fi psychosis. And give them all props for the variety of British dialects from character to character that never falter.
There’s strange back-tracking within the script as time moves freely forward and backward, as the characters try to remember what has happened or if those events happened and who experienced them. There’s an equally representational dance between the characters of Gilda (Breon Jenay) and Clark (Joshua Berg) that could represent their relationship over time, or a single sexual encounter. As with all the action over the course of this two-act play, you get to decide what is what.
Whitney Lehn Meltz’s set spans the length of the venue and easily invokes the biodome. Syd May’s lighting enhances it. Both bring alternately bright and macabre atmospheres to the action.
If Sci-Fi and oddly bizarre are what you’re looking for in a theatre piece, X will deliver it in spades.
When: 7 p.m. Friday – Saturday to Monday; 2 p.m. Sundays through March 4
Where: 4340 S. Valley View Blvd, Suite 210
Tickets: $35 - $40 (www.apublicfit.org)
Grade: **** Delicious
Producer: A Public Fit; Artistic Director: Ann-Marie Pereth; Producing Director: Joseph D. Kucan; Director: Jake Staley; Set Design: Whitney Lehn Meltz; Lighting Design: Syd May; Sound Design: Constance Taschner; Costume Design: Kendra Faith; Production Stage Manager: Sabrina Christensen