Warren Gerds/Critic at Large Review: Abstract ‘Red’ explores mind in Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Moment at the end of a play: As the performance closes, tears flow from the player seen as a central character. She is lying on her back in the center of the stage. This an elusive moment, like so many in the play “Red.” Is this player so into her character that, from simpatico to a friend, she weeps? Are the tears, instead, part of the player’s sense of accomplishment? Or is someone present who she wanted to see her perform in a well-rehearsed, complex university production?
Whatever, tears did roll Tuesday night as University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre and Dance performed Somalia Seaton’s “Red” in University Theatre of Theatre Hall on campus.
It’s been the “forever” of COVID-19 since the program performed live and in person – although its virtual productions last season were grabbers.
“Red” requires the audience to put pieces of lives together to shape a story. There’s a lot of minimalism at work. That starts with the printed program, which credits the playwright, the director and the ensemble players, and not much else.
The persons playing the focal characters of Dee and Jay are among the players listed in the ensemble.
What happens in the story is a series of sequences with Dee trying to patch together her memory.
Much is symbolic or a test of comprehension.
Somalia Seaton plays with the latter at the start: A kind of chorus of characters wonders about the apparent population of Earth – 7.5 billion. Seven point five billion is daunting to comprehend, particularly from perspective of there being four billion, nine hundred ninety nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine others than you.
A problem for Dee and her memory, apparently, is she is “drifting outside the bounds of reality,” one of the characters says.
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