Playwright Sampler: Tympanic Theatre Presents Today We Escape at the Den Theatre (March 15, 2015)

Today We Escape is a series of 12 unrelated plays inspired by the songs from Radiohead’s OK Computer.  Besides the same inspiration, and the same actors, the plays don’t share anything.  At times, this results in a sharp contrast in moods from one play to the next.  For example, the first play is focused on a child about to face her family dying in a house fire leads into an old guitar player recording a song for a young pop star.  In this second piece, Bobby Lovesong (the pop star) writes the best love songs, according to a disembodied voice.  The third play concerns a dermatologist removing glass splinters from his patients and allowing them to believe it was placed there by aliens.  The patients’ acting is excellent as they convincingly try to persuade the doctor to believe them.

The fourth play is mostly comical, mainly because of the annoying guy who won’t stop talking to the female lead.  It pairs nicely with the fifth play about a dungeons and dragons weekly game that is falling apart.  It’s comical how invested she is in the fantasy game until a surprise development.

The sixth play references Wizard of Oz heavily as it tells the story about a young girl meeting four strangers along her journey.  It ends with her tapping her red shoes together.  This movie parody of sorts leads into a parody of a late night talk show, where the host has a dark secret.  Then, secrets are revealed in the eighth play during a double date.

The rest of the plays deal with returning to civilization after a military tour, escaping suburban life, stealing from a gas station, and a journey into space.  The album is directly quoted in some of the dialogue.  All of the scenes are tied together by McKenzie Gerber playing acoustic versions of the songs on guitar from the back of the theatre.  The play lasts a full three hours, including intermission. Just as this review is a bit choppy, so is the experience of watching this play. It’s a very ambitious project that puts the audience through a whirlwind ride of emotions, just like Radiohead’s album does.

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