GOD IS A DJ
By FALK RICHTER
Translated and Directed by YUVAL SHARON
June 4 – 26, 2004 at Ontological Theater at St. Marks Church
Video, Original Score and Costumes by ERIK NELSON
Sets KATYA BLUMENBERG
Lighting GREG EMETAZ
Stage Manager MANDY BERRY
Press Representative KAREN GRECO ENTERTAINMENT
She – Sarah Fraunfelder
He – Timothy Ryan Olsen
Interviewer – Nina Egli
If we are going to start giving theater companies points for creative program design, then Theater Faction has won the contest with the decision to hand out actual LP’s with credits printed as liner notes for their sophomore production, GOD IS A DJ. I will admit that this inspired choice led me to my seat anticipating something different and good. Different? Yes. Good? Now and then, but not enough for me to sit for nearly two uninterrupted hours without fidgeting and checking my watch more than a few frustrating times. Still, if it is not my style, I do feel that there could be an audience out there more appreciative of a multimedia work like this than I, so I urge you to read further and decide for yourselves.
GOD IS A DJ is a German-language play that has, for some reason, been translated into 15 languages including English. Theater Faction’s production marks the U.S. premiere of this work, billed as a satire on reality television. Satire it is, making the point quite clearly that there is little that is "real" in an absolute sense when people, here a couple known as He and She, have an economic and artistic motive for being the featured fodder of the day. They become the embodiment of virtual reality, and by the end of the evening it becomes clear that even He and She may not know where to find the lines demarcating fiction from reality within their own memories, relationships, or even amidst their overly-sanitized looking home/studio.
My main complaint about GOD IS A DJ is that it vacillates wildly between being a work of innovation and being an overbearing cacophony of self-indulgent displays. When it is good, it is either funny or food for thought. When it is bad, it becomes as oppressive as the media it has set to exploit, explore, dissect and dissolve, all with an artistic eye toward revealing a larger truth. The truth, as I see it, is that less would have been more. One of the best scenes, for instance, between She and Interviewer, appears entirely on film that was pre-taped. Am I wrong, or does this defeat the purpose? Or, if this is meant to exploit the playwright’s ultimate vision, is the fact that the film portion draws our attention in ways the live action does not, suggest that we, the audience, are suckers for sitting through something that we could have preferably viewed on DVD at home, where pause, stop and fast forward functions would be available? It made me wonder. For, if we have devolved or evolved to a point where we suspect that even the playwrights disdain the stage, well, we are in trouble!
So, for a time, the parishioners at St. Marks Church should not expect too many answered prayers, unless they venture back to the Ontological Theater, where GOD IS A DJ until June 26. For those of you who do chose to attend this play, you will probably exit the theater hoping for the quick demise of reality television. I was, and I never watch any.
- Kessa De Santis -