Daniel MacIvor's meta-theatrical puzzle, In on It, at Manbites Dog | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Daniel MacIvor's meta-theatrical puzzle, In on It, at Manbites Dog 

In a darkened theater, a spotlight hits a crumpled gray jacket, the only object on stage. After a moment, strains from Donizetti's opera Anna Bolena slowly build from the speakers. As the music increases in intensity, actor Matthew Hager walks in, picks up the garment and puts it on. The rumples and creases in the flimsy fabric smooth out as the coat takes on and outlines the form and substance of a man.

Since Daniel MacIvor's thought-provoking 2001 drama goes "meta" more than once during the evening, it's interesting that this opening image isn't just a metaphor for much of what follows in the script. It's also fairly handy in summing up the work's critical reception to date: In dwelling on the three-level puzzle that gives the piece its framework, critics arguably have over-focused on the coat, as it were, while paying inadequate attention to the human contents therein.

Hager's character, listed in our playbill only as "This One," is himself living a shell of a life—as his companion, Gregor McElvogue's "That One," keeps none-too-subtly pointing out. We first meet the couple while they're working through problematic scenes of a play Hager's character has written. But as the brittleness in This One's melodramatic script begins to evince itself in the playwright's life off stage, we soon realize McElvogue's character isn't merely serving up real-time dramaturgy in a series of pointed questions that challenge the premises of his partner's play. Instead, he's actually asking him, "How can you go on living this way?"

Under Dana Marks' direction, the aesthetic rigidity of Hagar's character as an artist is clearly a function of his interpersonal inflexibility. In this relationship, his open stance as a gay man is rendered all but irrelevant since most of his emotions remain so firmly closeted.

Which leaves McElvogue's character the unpleasant task of warming This One's chill, and attempting to dislodge him from the reinforced shell of brittle fatalism and profound denial that shields any true emotional response. It won't be easy.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of MacIvor's script—and the performances in this production—is the degree to which they show two people with significant differences in personality trying to work out a relationship with one another.

For This One and That One are well past initial infatuation by the time we meet them. They juggle the substantive conflicts in their views on life, each other and their relationship with all of the other needs: a postponed trip to the market and then the pharmacist, housecleaning, a dinner with friends and night at the theater that have to be rescheduled. In short, they work on it. And we see how far they get, and how far they don't, in the course of MacIvor's artistic, intellectual and emotional workout.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Life in pink."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

your 20 sept review of playmakers current offering missed the boat, big time. the play portrayed all the characters as …

by Pointyhead on The Cake Edits Reality to Ignore the Everyday Consequences of Bible Belt Homophobia (Theater)

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation