Imagine a bird emoji tweeting. No, it’s not another bizarre White House official message. The Hodgepodge Group has adapted Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. It would be wise to be have read the original or at least be familiar with the plot prior to this production. I read it way too long ago in high school.
The Hodgepodge Group consists of four actors – Russel Goldman played Vonnegut’s main character, Billy Pilgrim, joined by three supporting actors; Eppchez Yes, Rose Beth Johnson, and Katherine Johnson.
For the first half of the short 45 minute piece, Goldman’s movements and speaking border on textbook robotic. This could be indicative of someone who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and shuffling memory flashbacks.
His body frame looks as if he stuffed two loaves of bread under his arms. However, this physical tic disappeared halfway through the performance so it’s hard to tell if it was intentional or not. Goldman’s best scene was easily his hallucination scene and a portrayal of a talk show host so good he could have been an emcee in a prior life.
closes July 23, 2017
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The three supporting characters took turns narrating what was happening on the stage much like a parent reading a book to a child, while occasionally acting out the parts. The narration was required, otherwise the audience would be completely lost. They came up with a creative body step to indicate time travel and shifting scenes. Shout out to Rose Beth Johnson’s physical portrayal of riding a train reminiscent of years of subway travel.
Eight bankers’ boxes of various cue-inducing artifacts shift about continuously through the show and are opened to cue different memories. The transitions using the boxes are disjointed and jerky. However, if you have ever dealt with anyone suffering from memory disorders like Alzheimer’s or dementia, the continual opening and closing of the boxes and studying the items inside is just about spot-on. The portrayal of the fire-bombing of Dresden was very clever even though it kicked up and illuminated the extreme dust of the venue that bordered on disgusting.
I was quite confused during the kidnap scene and waiting for an adaptation reminiscent of Jurassic Park to happen during an extensive ‘bug caught in amber’ narration. Alas, T-Rex never materialized. The bird call and catchphrase was effective and should be expanded in future evolutions of the play. Which brings me to the future of the play. I would be inclined to come back to Fringe for an updated version Slaughterhouse-Five. But first, I’ll reread the book.
Insert bird call emoji here. So it goes…