Written & Directed by Roger Nasser
Part of the sound scape festival
June 14—28, 2013
The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, USA
The Dadaists, dedicated to chance and preferring a palette of ordinary life reshuffled, were committed to exercises like collages of elements that were dropped from a height and stayed where they floated onto the paper; things which don’t go together but do add up. Playwright Roger Nasser was infected by a dada poem which similarly collided its sounds and intentions, and he created this sober whimsical set of monologues that compete and counterpoint.
It’s a boombox & park-violin symphony of errant thoughts and inner longings; what might emerge if Jules Feiffer had an heir or Facebook had an editor. Nasser has deep but unintrusive insight, and in fact much of his own life story has been cut up into those separate characters, a film cranked backwards of a captivating collage process.
The Dadaists did meaningful work which they meant to be ephemeral; our contemporary collective testament in social media is often impulsive but we mean it to be momentous. The speakers in Commotion Collage are familiar to us but never really interact with each other, though they’re not alone in their understandings or misreadings.
The commotion lies in contradictions the assembled personalities themselves don’t see; Amy Overman is magnetic in an intense soliloquy of a person with terminally relaxed ambitions, Gavin Starr Kendall is compelling as a passively outgoing personality with tenacious resentments, in two perceptive performances of sharp philosophic focus and diffuse emotional shock Lex Friedman is all anxiety and Fred Backus all acceptance in roles that are both about disorientation from the imagined life-story they were fixated on, and Melissa Roth is hilariously poignant as a real-life dada veteran displaced in time and dismayed by the unfolding of a history she’s not prominently part of.
The true music is in the way these voices contrast and sometimes intertwine, though a soundtrack of fragmentary spoken wisdom, random everyday noises like the significantly unanswered ringtone and reproachfully cheery old sitcom theme-song samples designed by Justin Plowman cycles like an existential roulette wheel, life-support machine or unattended TV, providing clever disharmony.
The ensemble of Commotion Collage are consumed by what they didn’t get in life, but at our distance, their portrayers and playwright show how they come together for the beauty in what just happens.