I hate to say this, but I hated AS IT WERE and/or WHAT (ever) DOESN’T MATTER. The long, convoluted title should have tipped me off a week ago when scouring shows, but the description was jammed packed with things I like. Yoga. Love. Robots. Erotic. Conspiracy. Maybe it was all too much.
Chuthachinee Juntranggur is Chelsea, a human who works alongside a couple of androids and is obsessed with yoga. She’s wearing her workout attire even while typing away at the office and does a couple of downward facing dogs in the middle of one of her stream of consciousness pontifications. Of which she has many. In fact, the first 25 minutes of the 45 minutes of the show is basically just her. Talking, talking, talking to herself aloud while her robot colleague, Don (Nick Torres), sits on stage pretending to type.
She says (or, rather, thinks) obnoxious things that are, quite frankly, difficult to follow but full of enough big words as to sound pretentious. Inertia is “cultivating gardens towards virtue.” Suddenly, she is “down by the river” (but unfortunately not in a van smoking doobies) where “the water. The water. Is always wet.”
And then, back in reality, Don the robot “fires” her, so she pulls out a gun and shoots him. The security guard (Shaun Johnson) hears it and enters. He proceeds to sit beside Don while Chelsea continues her thinking aloud. She wants a coat now and “Contemplative education is the only way [she] learns.” And more of the same.
Finally, Mike (Stephen Notes), who wants to do it with Chelsea, enters. He works on another floor and is willing to give Chelsea a job but really only for sex. Apparently the security guard loves her too and Don suddenly becomes melancholy, so takes to drinking Jaegermeister. And that’s about it. I wish I could say I was holding back on the plot so that you could experience the climax for yourself. But, there is no climax. Nothing happens. I don’t even remember Don getting up from his chair the whole time. He looks bored. In fact, except Notes, whose Mike character is the only one with any animation, everyone does.
AS IT WERE and/or WHAT (ever) DOESN’T MATTER
Written by Stephen Notes
Details and tickets
Being a super self-conscious person, I continually worry that I often miss the point of something due to a lack of intelligence. But I know that art should never make you feel stupid. Even when you don’t fully understand something, you still feel. Moved. Happy. Amazed. Sad. But watching AS IT WERE, I was just bored. Bored by watching cardboard characters do nothing but try to force philosophies down my throat. While Chelsea’s train of thoughts chugged along, my own drifted to things like take out from Banana Leaves.
Suicidal robots mingling with horny humans could really be a good show, but the over-philosophizing is painful. And, when you talk, talk, talk at an audience—telling them everything you’d want to say to friends at an all-afternoon brunch—you deprive them of what is best about theatre. Showing them something great.
The best part of the AS IT WERE? It’s only 45 minutes and right above a bar. So, if you are in the neighborhood and would find what I describe above mildly amusing, then maybe this show is for you. Besides, it’s Fringe. The time of year when it’s acceptable to try on something out of the ordinary.
AS IT WERE and/or WHAT (ever) DOESN’T MATTER . Written by Stephen Notes. Starring Chuthachinee Juntranggur, Shaun Johnson, Stephen Notes, and Nick Torres . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkindale.