offoffoff theater



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Theater section
  • Theater main page
  • Theater archive
  • Theater links

    Current theater

  • Fall Briefs
  • Nick


    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2008-2009 reviews:
  • Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell
  • beast: a parable
  • Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
  • Blasted
  • Buffalo Gal
  • China: The Whole Enchilada
  • The Corn Maiden
  • Crawl, Fade to White
  • Doruntine
  • Extraordinary Rendition
  • The First Breeze of Summer
  • Fringe Festival 2008
  • Fringe Festival favorites
  • The Glass Cage
  • Hair
  • Hidden Fees* (A Play About Money)
  • Jailbait
  • King of Shadows
  • The Longest Running Joke of the Twentieth Century
  • Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
  • Macbeth
  • The Master Builder
  • Missa Solemnis, or The Play About Henry
  • Mourn the Living Hector
  • A Nasty Story
  • Nowadays
  • the october crisis (to laura)
  • Oresteia
  • Other Bodies
  • Prayer
  • Psalms of a Questionable Nature
  • Raised by Lesbians
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Sleepwalk With Me
  • Small Craft Warnings
  • Something Weird . . . in the Red Room
  • Soul Samurai
  • The Sound of One Hanna Clapping
  • Southern Promises
  • The Third from the Left
  • Twelfth Night
  • Voices from Guantánamo
  • The Wendigo
  • Zombie


    A Place Like This

    Conform follows dysfunction

    The 10 hypnotic voices of "A Place Like This" belong, you eventually realize, to a race of middle-American pod people who want to make you one of them.


    Five nameless women and five nameless men gather on stage, sit down in a half-circle, and start talking. And that's all that happens in this off-kilter but intriguing play — the lines are chopped up, scattered randomly among the performers, and tossed out into the semicircle. Lines overlap, each a twist on or repetition of or response to the one before it, perhaps more like the thoughts in your head than a real conversation.

    Written and directed by: C.J. Hopkins.
    Cast: Frederick Backus, Dan Berkey, Rachael Biernat, Nicole Higgins, Dan Hope, Frank Anthony Polito, Emmanuella Souffrant, Eva van Dok, Kate Ward, Malachi Weir.
    Is this going somewhere, you wonder to yourself — all the more after 20 or 30 minutes in which the actors repeatedly inform the audience what they don't intend to do in the course of the play. They don't plan to provoke or challenge the audience, just entertain a little with some standard sitcom or Broadway-type fare. "Any minute now we're going to start banging out the jokes," one assures us. "Yes, any minute now we are going to start just banging out the bits," another agrees.

    Of course, they never get around to just banging out the jokes. This group meditation turns into a personal intervention aimed at an old friend (actually an empty chair) named "George" (who could just as well be you, the viewer) who refuses to unquestioningly accept mainstream middle-class suburban values.

    At first, the use of 10 actors seems like just a gimmick to liven up what would otherwise be a long monologue. But as the confrontation between the 10 friends and "George" develops, they begin to look a little different, like a kind of collective unconscious, their words representing all the common beliefs that a person inherits from the surrounding society. This effect would never have been achieved by one actor in a monologue. Most of what we hear from the chorus of 10 is platitudinous, sensible-sounding and fundamentally misguided, always pressuring the individual to give up his individuality and conform to the group. And why turn your back on a life that offers you so much — a lovely house, a luxury automobile, your choice of goods at the mall? People have so many opportunities in life, like "plastic pieces moving across a paper board," one person says, and she means that as a good thing. "That's the freedom we have," another adds.

    After a while, the overlapping voices of "A Place Like This" begin to wash over the audience like waves onto the beach, one after another, and the hypnotic effect they create is itself part of the point of this unusual but interesting experience.

    JUNE 5, 2000

    Post a comment on "A Place Like This"