TimeLine Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of CONCERNING STRANGE DEVICES FROM THE DISTANT WEST. A Victorian woman stumbles on a photograph. She travels to Japan to grasp the subject matter. A modern-day art collector goes to Japan in search of vintage photographs. These pictures are clues to the past and present. Through interpretation, the woman and man will change their own stories’ ending. CONCERNING STRANGE DEVICES FROM THE DISTANT WEST is a provocative montage of titillation.
Playwright Naomi Iizuka has penned a triptych. The talented ensemble play various roles in the past and present. The multiple stories intertwine through photographs and serendipity. Director Lisa Portes tells Iizuka’s story from different viewpoints. Portes paces the promenade like a moving picture show. The action takes place center stage with visible intrigue flashing on the side. The audience is engaged in puzzling together the three primary stories. As the cast morphs into different characters with hidden agendas, the audience is tethered to the task of deciphering what the real story is.
Not surprising in a show about cameras, the visual elements are eye popping. CONCERNING is definitely a designer showcase. Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic) creatively mixes old and new Japan. On one end of the stage, the past is represented with multiple round, paper lanterns. Their illumination is magical. On the flip side of the stage, the present is modeled like a large shattered lens. Mike Tutaj projects fascinating imagery on the odd-shaped shards. Bembridge has made that side of the set two-dimensional. So at times, it’s not quite apparent if we are seeing the real actor or a film or a still of that actor. The illusion is unsettling. Costume designer Janice Pytel then uses vibrant costumes to contrast against the whiteness of the lanterns and metallic of the fragments. The complete aesthetic is extraordinary.
CONCERNING STRANGE DEVICES FROM DISTANT WEST is an incredibly innovative way to timeline the history of cameras in a snapshot.
Running Time: Eighty-five minutes with no intermission
At Timeline Theatre, 615 W. Wellington
Written by Naomi Iizuka
Directed by Lisa Portes
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru April 14th
Buy Tickets at www.timelinetheatre.com