By Christian Seiter
A Farewell, the inaugural production of Suckerpunch, a Salt Lake City-based performance research group, is a unique “found-space” theatre experience. The piece, written and directed by Kali Scott, is based on Arthur Schnitzler‘s short story. Perhaps the most intriguing element of A Farewell is the playing space in which it is presented—tthe piece is performed, literally, in the living room of a middle class home in the Salt Lake City suburbs. Although “found space” productions often are a result of necessity rather than choice, A Farewell masterfully incorporates its playing space to the point where it is hard to imagine the piece having comparable impact in a traditional theatre.
In A Farewell, Eddie (Mark Macey) anxiously awaits the arrival of his date, Anna (Kali Scott), a married woman with whom he is having an affair. As time passes, Eddie becomes restless, drinking wine, munching on meticulously prepared snacks, berating himself for his romantic shortcomings, and, eventually, hallucinating about past experiences with Anna. Throughout the play, Eddie plays various messages Anna has left him over the course of their relationship on his answering machine; the answering machine (in tandem with an old VCR player) is the primary vehicle through which the audience comes to learn about Anna and the complicated nature of her relationship with Eddie. Anna makes appearances onstage, but these appearance are usually manifestations of Eddie’s memory; the lion’s share of stage time belongs to Macey.
A Farewell provides an incredibly intimate audience experience. The actors are frequently no more than three feet from the audience, and the result leaves one feeling somewhat voyeuristic, witnessing moments of intimacy and insecurity in a deeply personal living space. The intimacy of the playing space alongside Macey’s honest portrayal of insecurity, self-deprecation, and misplaced hopefulness makes this a production well worth seeing, particularly if you are new to “found space” theatre. Scott, likewise, delivers an intriguing performance, and in particular shines during the more lighthearted moments of the piece. The play is most successful when it trusts silence and genuine human moments in a truly lived-in playing space.
Occasionally, Eddie delivers sweeping poetic monologues that, for me, were less successful than other moments of the play. Even so, Macey’s humor and charm help the speeches remain genuine. The piece is well-written, but the juxtaposition of the poetic moments with “kitchen sink” realism sometimes feels out of place.
A Farewell is mature, but accessible, and runs appropriately 40 minutes. It contains moderate to strong profanity, but would be appropriate for mature teenagers. The piece explores many of the ugly details of a particularly complicated relationship, but it is by no means excessive nor smutty. The humor throughout helps balance the more uncomfortable moments. The ticket price is a mere five dollars, and there is a ten seat cap per show. Street parking outside is ample.
I found Suckerpunch’s A Farewell to be very honest and interesting. I look forward to more pieces by this thought-provoking theatre company.
Suckerpunch presents A Farewell by Kali Scott
1855 E. Mary Dott Way, Salt Lake City, UT, 84106-4035
Friday, October 6th at 7:00 PM, Saturday, October 7th at 7:00 PM
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