Babel Theatre Project
By JAMIE CARMICHAEL
Medicine Show Theatre, 549 W. 52 St., NYC, July 8 – 29, 2005
Directed by GEORDIE BROADWATER
Set Designer MELISSA GOLDMAN
Lighting Designer JOSH RANDALL
Sound Designer ANTHONY GABRIELE
Costume Designers MEREDITH JAMES, ASTA HOSTETTER
Stage Manager SARAH CURTRIS
Publicity SPRINGER ASSOCIATES PR
Catherine Gowl – Tamara
Eric Murdoch – Serge
Rufus Tureen – Alvie
Emily Young – Lauren
PILGRIMS is the play that Babel Theatre Project has chosen as its inaugural production, and as is the case with most new plays and new theater companies out there, what has ultimately made it to the stage is a mixed bag. Here the mix is more good than mediocre, with the nod being decidedly toward artistic promise on all fronts, but there is some murky water to tread through along the way.
The title, PILGRIMS, lets the audience know what arcs of experience we are to expect for the four central and several additional characters the four actors portray. The production design is intentionally minimal, and the fourth wall is all but non-existent. These elements all work together to enhance the atmosphere intended by the playwright, and require the cast to remain onstage and in view at all times, including costume changes. The cast also performs the sound effects.
The core of PILGRIMS is a quartet of connected characters. Lauren and Serge are siblings. Lauren and Alvie attend the same school. Tamara employs Serge as an oddball therapist of sorts, quickly becoming his lover, and the couple meet Alvie when things take an unfortunate turn. Essentially, the action centers on the life and disappearance of Lauren. A seemingly carefree and sexually aware young woman with seemingly average problems, her façade hides a darker nature that no one sees, including the audience. The level of her apparent despair is obvious in neither the character’s stage time nor the anecdotal evidence of her life. Her story gets lost somewhere along the way, though it is meant to be so very front and center.
In the end, the natural or organic aspects of the production felt too forced to aid in achieving the intended goal of constructive minimalism. Rather, everything felt very deliberate and studied. That can work too, but I suspect it was not what the creators of PILGRIMS wanted in the end product. Not perfect, but quite ambitious work, to be certain.
- Kessa De Santis -