BWW Review: OUT LOUD theatre offers edgy, gripping CREATION X
From the moment you enter the theater - through a narrow hallway lit an antiseptic white - you are plunged into an immersive and disorienting experience in OUT LOUD's new one-act, CREATION X. The one-hour show, an intense character study of a scientist and "monster," is by turns enigmatic, thought-provoking, and viscerally terrifying.
In the center of the space, as the audience enters, is the monster, played by Marc Tiberiis II, amid four vertical pillars of green fluorescent light, clearly being held immobile. Kira Hawkridge, OUT LOUD's artistic director, is the scientist. And once she closes the huge loft-style doors to start the action, we're in a dim world clearly of her making.
In the four corners of the 40x40, 30-seat black-box space are set-piece artifacts of the everyday world: a couch, kitchen, lab bench, and sink. Hawkridge bounces among these, establishing a prosaic reality while never losing sight of the disturbing creature in the middle.
With no dialogue, she has to convey her inner life entirely through action, and does so with energy and insight, whether hanging up a lab coat, ruminating over a sandwich, throwing notes in the trash, or sprawling out on the floor to arrange and annotate her working papers. She returns to an iPod, over and over, to replay the start of Journey's "Loving, Touching, Squeezing," making you notice just how weird those lyrics actually are.
Throughout the first half-hour, the monster is motionless, bundled up in thick outerwear, gloves, and a gas mask that both erases his individuality and tiptoes up to the edge of Jason Voorhees territory. His looming presence is amplified by an eerie ambient soundscape reminiscent of David Lynch's "Eraserhead."
And then, the containment fails, klaxons blare, the lights go out, and all hell breaks loose.
The second half of the show, played in darkness with spears of flashlight illumination, is a hair-raising thrill ride, as Hawkridge attempts to keep the (light-fearing) monster at bay.
Hawkridge and Tiberiis do an outstanding job at conveying all the action through movement (and, for her, the occasional scream.) Tiberiis also did the set design, which is cleverly detailed. Siobhan LaPorte-Cauley and Hawkridge co-directed, and deserve kudos for inventive staging of the disturbing action, developed by the cast and dramaturg Natasha Cole. Nick Schmidt's sound design is a standout.
This is not a show that everyone will like - or even feel comfortable watching, but that's part of the experience. If you have a taste for well-executed in-your-face theatre that's not afraid to throw in a scare or two, you'll find this an engaging evening.
CREATION X is at the Out Loud Theater, 134 Mathewson St. Providence, RI 02903, https://www.outloudtheatre.org/creation-x.html Performances: Feb 8-9, 15-16, 22-25 8pm. Tickets $25 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/creation-x-tickets-54317106929 Student discount tickets $10 though the web site. Note: Although there's an elevator to the 4th-floor theatre, there are steps into the space, making it not completely accessible.
Photo credit: Piquant Photo/OUT LOUD