What do cell phones, natural disasters, and the industrial revolution have in common? LOL: The End (written and performed by Michi Ilona Osato, Una Aya Osato, and Yoshimasa “Sen” Osato) sets out to investigate how the world got to where it is, starting with Man’s earliest domination over nature in order to create shelter, and ending with the isolation that can occur as Man becomes more and more enmeshed in the virtual world of hand-held devices. Though there are less than a dozen words squeaked out in this dense multimedia interaction (which includes curated new media samples from YouTube, ultramodern kabukesque pieces of clowning, and interpretive dance) the message of this show is still clearly vital, diversified, and meaningful.
The central push of this piece is to show how our scramble for comfort is never-ending and essentially the more we have the more our smaller problems require higher costs to avoid them. The end of the world has never been so engrossing as with the physical comedy and funny dramatic redirections of the audience by Michi as the personification of Greed with its quest to maintain power over others. She sets us in our place while we have pity for Una’s embodiment of the innocence of the havenots around the world and throughout history.
As the story progresses we are given an evolving view and review showing that sometimes those who don’t have the most (or are the meekest – or most friendly) can actually be the great causers of disaster even if they are also the most abused. They are like drowning victims who will desperately pull down anyone or anything along with them as they sink to the bottom. Yoshimasa, as the face of the Earth (or more elusive “Nature”) shows how the earth is patient, but can be irritated at the ridiculousness of Man’s desire to remake the world into something safer and easier to control yet only manages to make it less stable. While LOL is light-hearted in its depiction of our moves toward disaster, the overall message is more hard-hitting than many documentaries on the subject. This is perhaps because we can identify with the characters so readily. With so much meaning laden on so little verbal communication, kudos must be given to the director Moises Belizario who had a lot to orchestrate in this piece. With the sheer number and requirement for precise arrangement, stage manager Clarissa Ligon should get a shout out as well. The multimedia portions of the show were divided between the sometimes driving and sometimes serene music of Yuri Ryback and Jordan Battiste, as well as by the careful video curation and editing done by Una Aya Osato and Michi Ilona Osato.
The beginning of this play, I believe, was intentionally a bit alien and hard to understand; the mysticism of the past which ruled us is so much less in control now-a-days. The dialogue between the three on stage at first seems almost like an abstract dance celebrating color and emotion. By the end of the show the audience is shown a postapocalyptic world where humankind is reduced back to their primal state by a believable set of circumstances.
We see the dance with death, the wonder and the magic of how we react to the power of “disasters” celebrated again by those now newly primitive, echoing the beginning of the play. In this beautiful yet horrifying dance toward the end, we see the black veil of death alternating with the bright red of fire, blue of water disasters, and even white of disasters of the air in a way that clearly shows the sort of fear modern people could find if our filters of intervening media of various types were removed. In this very much the-end-is-the-beginning-is-the-end sort of moment, we realize that most likely, no matter what we do, it is possible the world will go on even if civilization is swept aside by human carelessness. It becomes quite humbling to see the end where everything returns back to square one, except for the relics of the past strewn around a new landscape. Like the myths of giants who caused the mountains, the somber peace that enshrouded the audience after the rush of symbolic destruction was palpable.
The image of Yoshimasa as the calmed Earth Spirit in the end covering his children with a dark veil, with a look of compassion yet a hint of bewilderment and the remaining covering of bright pink hair (representing I think the lasting spiritual miasma which would stay with the earth) that ends the play is one that will stay with me for a long time. Try to fit this show in if you can, and you will likely get a lot to reflect on for many days to come.
~~~LOL: The End. Company: Keep it Movin’ Productions Directed by: Moises Belizario & Una Aya Osato Mar 02, 7:00PM Mar 04, 7:00PM $15.00 The Kraine Theater