Art is hard. If an artist wants to articulate something about boredom, he or she cannot simply write and produce a deliberately boring play. Audience members could instead go sit in a Starbucks for an hour and save twenty bucks. Similarly, if an artist wants to articulate something about the absurd, he or she cannot simply formulate a scatterbrained pageant of pastiche and call it existentially profound. 11 seconds of ecstasy!, created, written and directed by Roi Escudero, purports to be based in “realismo magico, transformation art, the theatre of cruelty’s awareness, and the irreverent humor of the absurd.” But the play isn’t so much based in magical realism as it is in surrealism. And where it further describes itself as an “eco-musical embodied in a performance art piece,” this seems to mean a collage of grotesque space aliens from a planet called Utopia, occasional attempts to retell the story of Genesis in Earth’s post-apocalyptic era, an actress in a tutu sometimes referred to as an “orgasm,” a predictable sexual reference here and there complete with thrusting into the air in case the references were unclear, and, to top it off, a mock bowel movement accompanied by the astute and subtle explication of the symbolism of this action, “I shit all over the world!”
Anyone who has ever taken a writing class has heard this bit of advice: “Show, don’t tell.” For all the showmanship of the production, complete with masks, capes, papier-mache heads, dance numbers, show tunes, video clips, etc., there was very little of substance actually shown. “Greed,” “money,” “war,” “oil,” “death,” and other abstractions were the go-to words in a script that was platitudinous and preachy where it attempted to be profound. (At one point, in case we missed it, the word GREED was flatly projected in large red letters on the wall.) The perhaps well-meaning environmental and political messages of the play were obscured by its shoddily thought-through production—often, the actor’s lines couldn’t even be heard over the music playing on the loudspeakers—and if the medium is the message, then the entire play begs the question, “Come again?”
There is a quote sometimes attributed to a letter written by Blaise Pascal, other times to one written by Mark Twain. “I am sorry this is so long,” it says, “I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” 11 seconds of ecstasy! was about 3,589 seconds too long.
~~~11 seconds of ecstasy!
An allegory from Bubulinos’ Dreams Connected Series
An ETdC Projects’ Lab Production benefiting The Children’s Aid Society Philip Coltoff CenterCreated, Written and Directed by: Roi Escudero
Running time: 60 minutes, no intermission
Venue: The Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
Performance dates: Tues 6/8 @ 4:30pm
Wed 6/ 9 @ 9pm
Sat 6/19 @ 7pm
Sun 6/20 @ 3:15pm
Mon 6/21 @ 9pm
Tues 6/22 @ 7pm
Sat 6/26 @ 1pm
Purchase Tickets Here.