The Untitled Theater Company No.61 presents City of Glass based on the book by Paul Auster and adapted for the stage by Edward Einhorn. Actor, Robert Honeywell arrives at the theater along with audience and crosses over into the other reality of the world of the play and immediately begins to deconstruct himself to become Daniel Quinn? We have slipped seamlessly into a detective novel, dreamscape, inner reality that is fragmented, fraught and tantalizing.
“This atmospheric film noir episode tickles the brain…”
There is a phone call, mistaken identity, quest embarked upon and we dive headlong into a surreal space drenched with vivid visuals and a narration that lulls you with its rhythmic metronome of questioning and critical self evaluation. Freddi Price creates the astounding live underscore to this absurd and intriguing examination of brokenness. He is the master hypnotist able to transport you into altered states of consciousness where this Picasso of performance allows you to drift on a waterbed surrounded by run away words, potent imagery and scintillating performance.
Honeywell as Quinn is our Mike Hammer, Moonlighting style detective. A man, a poet, defeated by grief who answers a call not meant for him but which will lead him right into the heart of blackest despair. Along the road Honeywell/Quinn will slip in and out of the characters he meets, trying them on, getting into their heads, understanding them deeply in his body as he allows them their forced entrance. Each new character altering his sanity by their proximity and pushing him to transcend the ordinary. All the while he is searching for the words to express his pain/life/shattering and finds the dictionary lacking. Honeywell is a thrilling chameleon. He doesn’t change characters as much as revealing those that already exist inside of him -like Michelangelo freeing “David” from the marble. Its like he just lets them up for air. His transformations are sublime and quite brilliant. It is a mammoth text and he does not falter for a moment in his steadfast delivery. Every moment of his verbal odyssey is choreographed by Patrice Miller to appear absolutely effortless but you can see that an extraordinary amount of work has gone into this sculpting of space.
Honeywell is joined on stage by Mateo Moreno and Dina Rose Rivera as the Silent Man and Woman. These two entities morph into fragments of Quinn, into the characters he meets and the emotional subtext of the spoken word. They are the ever present deconstruction of the author and playwright’s thoughts and actions. Miller has done an electric job of creating a distinctive physicality for the demands of this surreal story. Rivera is lithe and serpentine in her liquid physicality and adds brilliant color to this portrait of disintegrating sanity. Moreno is a statuesque presence, a rubber man bending into any position that serves the character’s physicality with intense commitment.
Gil Sperling’s video design intersects with the action on stage in surprising and clever ways, evolving the story and giving a moving backdrop to the potent absurdism on stage.
Edward Einhorn’s direction is fine tuned and unrelenting. He keeps the actors in a constant state of heightened tension and the audience in a state of hungry curiosity. He has successfully found the glorious expression of that volatile intersection where author, playwright, director and actor all inhabit the stage at the same time and wrestle for dominance. He has wrought an intelligent adaptation of a story that lets language dissolve in front of us, fragmenting our ergonomic human engineering, leaving us – feeling. I would however, have liked a few moments of absolute silence and stillness to feel the earth beneath my feet before we flew apart again.
This atmospheric film noir episode tickles the brain, asks us to listen deeply and seeks to sew our fragments back together.
Running time: 1 hour 45 with no intermission.
Advisory: Adult themes. Recommended for ages 18 and up
City of Glass is playing through March 12 at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street, New York City. For tickets call 212 675 6446 or purchase them online.