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Drama paris avenue productions · Ages 13+ · flashing lights · United States of America

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Review by ERIK BLAIR

August 05, 2021 certified reviewer

What I liked

There were occasional moments where individual actors created effective characterizations.

What I didn't like

I honestly don’t like being harsh but the technological issues in this production need to be fixed. The issues included:

  • Sync delay between audio and video—a real problem when all you have is an audio/video feed
  • Giant sound level discrepancies between live actors and recorded sound effects which meant either straining to hear the actors or having your ears blasted by the sound effects
  • Hearing the stage manager cues
  • Sound effects not connected to the actors’ actions correctly (which made the show feel unrehearsed)

I recognize that the performance I saw is the preview and much of this might/should get better. But this show has also been performed at other festivals so I expected better. Moreover, I have personally seen nearly 20 virtual productions over the last year that have done far more complex technological things without these issues. I am aware of dozens more. So this show technologically felt to me like the first pandemic shows of last year. It’s not a technological innovation unless you paid no attention to any of the vast number of companies finding far better solutions to the same issues this show attempts to tackle. In 2021, I think more technological control seems necessary or you are actually doing your audience a disservice.

From a narrative standpoint, I feel like this is meant to be a clear allegory about the pandemic and is certainly a show attempting to work around the limitations of the pandemic. But for me this just doesn’t work at all. Perhaps if the technology worked it would be clearer. But the version I saw consisted largely of people talking about something we couldn’t see and if there is one rule of narrative, it’s show don’t tell.

Ultimately, for a show that has an upcoming online event apparently built around it’s ‘innovative technological and narrative solutions’, one would hope that the creators would have a better grasp of the technology and narrative within their show. Even more, one would expect an understanding of the more complete and complex innovations and narratives that other professional creators have made in the last 16 months. This show does not suggest they have that knowledge and that lack will be apparent for anyone who does.

My overall impression

With the listing of awards on the show page, I expected a dynamite show. Unfortunately, that was not the experience I had. The combination of MAJOR technological issues (a surprise given that the show has been performed virtually elsewhere) and a narrative that is largely solo expositional monologues created a show that didn’t gel for me. Literally dozens of virtual theatrical and immersive productions have handled both narrative and technology more effectively since the pandemic began.

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