Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Golden Dragon. Quantum Theatre.

Photo credit: Quantum Theatre
Part of the Quantum experience is the venue. The site of The Golden Dragon is Lake Carnegie in Highland Park. The space is stunning and vast yet tranquil and controlled. The stagnant lake, which is more like a pond, is equipped with a concrete path directly across the water and embellished with moving platforms and a cabin-like hut opposite the audience seating.

The play is focused around a Chinese-Thai-Vietenamese-Restaurant (called The Golden Dragon) and follows the tragedies of its employees, patrons and neighbors. The style of the play is more easily defined by what it is not. It is not realism, it is not naturalism and it is not boring. The play sets up its own narrative logic and storytelling technique that Bill O'Driscoll of City Paper has called a, "curious post-Brechtian style". The players speak directly to the audience, articulate their stage directions, assume multiple personas (that intentionally cross the boundaries of age, race and sex) and deny the audience the time to form any sort of relationship to any specific character over another.

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

I felt something epic and Grecian about the whole performance. Maybe it was the space or the gravity of the topics explored: immigrant exploitation, forced prostitution, our own selfishness or difference and the notion of "otherness". Or the way that the action cumulated at the end at what seemed like an inevitable and tragic conclusion.

Roland Schimmelpfenning's script is a movie for the stage. The way the action jumps around from piece to piece reminds me of sitcoms or, more appropriately, movies like Babel that tell seemingly unrelated stories that are thematically linked and may or may not be connected in the end. The script also allows for magic realism. A retelling of the parable of the grasshopper and the ant collides with the story of an immigrant worker whose family communicates with him through a bloody hole in his mouth-- the aftermath of a tooth pulling that eventually leads to his death.

The Quantum team has risen to the challenge and staged this spectacle in a truly comprehendible and cohesive way that in the spirit of site-specific work uses more than words to communicate the underlying ideas of the play in a visually concentrated way.

The show runs until August 26th and tickets can be found here. If you end up attending please feel free to share your experience here or post a response.

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