Monday, March 11, 2013

REVIEW: Mission Drift by The TEAM

City Hall Drama Theatre, Saturday March 9

“Half the weight, twice the man”, is what a friend of mine used to say every time he went to the toilet to take a dump. For some reason, this phrase came to my mind after I saw Mission Drift. If the show would just cut the length and make it a bit more compact, it would have worked. Okay, perhaps even just tighten up the narrative would do.

Mission Drift is directed by Rachel Chavkin and written by The TEAM, Theater of the Emerging American Moment. Yes, TEAM is the acronym of this Brooklyn-based collaborative ensemble whose mission is to create “new performance works about the experience of living in America today” and one wonders whether which came first, the acronym or what the short form stands for. Like its name though, there is a sense that this collaborative ensemble tries very hard to force ideas into a box and somehow pass it off as modern or new theatre.

Mission Drift is a play with music on the expansion and devastation of the USA. The play was a clutter of small scenes on the country’s all-consuming desire for growth represented by the city of Las Vegas, a neon-lit mirage in the middle of Nevada that seemingly attracts and attacks the countless dreamers. It started interestingly and intelligently and slipped into an overambitious multi-stream narrative. It got Joan (Amber Gray), a third-generation employee of a gaming giant who got laid off because the casino has been forced to scale back. Then it also got Catalina (Stephanie Wright Thompson), the forever 14 years old who trek her way from Amsterdam in 1624 to modern Las Vegas. Then it also got Miss Atomic (Heather Christian), who practically served as the default M.C. through her snide remarks and heavy bluesy songs. There were guys too (Bryce Gill and Ian Lassiter)…

The highlight of the show was actually the music of Heather Christian who also did most of the singing. Actually, all the six cast members did sing and they were all good. The problem was that the music was only perhaps a fourth of the show. In fact, all the actors did extremely well beyond the singing. All the dancing and acting were a pleasure to witness except that it just highlighted further the shortcoming of the material itself. The more time the actors spent on stage, the less point they made and whatever point they made, they just became pointless.
Mission Drift

Creative Team:
Artistic Director: Rachel Chavkin
Written by: The TEAM, in collaboration with
Co-Writers: Heather Christian and Sarah Gancher
Composer: Heather Christian
Lyrics: Heather Christian and the TEAM
Scenic Designer: Nick Vaughan
Sound Designer: Matt Hubbs
Costume Designer: Brenda Abbandandolo
Lighting Designer: Jake Heinrichs
Associate Lighting Designer: Seán Linehan
Associate Choreographer: Jake Margolin

Cast inlcudes:
Miss Atomic / Piano: Heather Christian
Joan: Amber Gray
Joris Rapalje: Bryce Gill
Catalina Rapalje: Stephanie Wright Thompson
Chris / Others: Ian Lassiter
Percussion: Matt Bogdanow
Guitar / Bass: Josh Myers

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