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SVT's "Static"
The lovely Ms. A and I went to see the Salvage Vanguard Theater production of "Static" last night, their current play. SVT is known for using odd venues, but this one really stands out. The play is essentially a one-man show and is set in a hotel room. The audience, limited to twelve people, sits in the hotel room and watches the action unfold. This has the potential for being really, really bad, but SVT's effort is actually pretty good. They pull off the 1 hour 15 minute piece with a combination of great acting and technical finesse.

The play starts with a man apparently asleep in bed. He awakens and starts muttering to himself. Then it gets strange.

While I don't want to give away any of the plot elements, I'll say that I found that the pacing was a bit uneven. It sets up lots of disconnected feelings and emotional states, and they only really get connected in the last fifteen minutes. There are some really sublime moments, once where the audience wonders what their own role is in the production; in that kind of intimate space, is there a fourth wall?

I really appreciated that SVT set the evening up so that we'd have a chance to chat with the actor, Brent Werzner, after the show. It was an informal Q&A where we got to explore the themes of the play and how the various mechanisms of the production worked. The work isn't meant to have a clear meaning, and there was some dissent among audience members about some of the interpretations.

Should you see it? If you like the theater and want to see how it can be reshaped and reworked, yes, go see it. However, don't expect the experiment to be neat and easy; there's a lot of potential here, but I'd like to see a stronger story that provided some resolution earlier in the work while still preserving the strong ending.

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Experimental theatre is never easy, usually there is a rift between trying to show something real and something that is polished finesse, like what is found in most films of today. Experimental theatre is harder to pull off today than it was 20-30 years ago. Once upon a time there was a willingness to experiment. Now audiences are bombarded with reality TV, such a joke, and polished Broadway pieces and films. People prefer a cleaner set up and conclusion since it is a departure from the messy lives most people lead. That is one of the sad things about living in Atlanta - not a lot of experimental theatre anymore. Nothing like it was when I was in highschool and sneaking out to see various shows. Drama Tech back in its heyday did many an interesting show.

But the premise SVT have created is an interesting one. It's always interesting to show how lives interesct with one another. Always thought it would be interesting to write a show about people living in an apartment building and how their lives cross in some ways and don't in so many others.

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