Was I the Only One Who Got Slightly Bored?
KC Fringe Festival
Sexing Hitler tells the somewhat-convoluted story of Hitler's plan to dispatch sex dolls (Senta Schneider should excuse me for using the term "Dolls") to German soldiers to keep them from contracting diseases from prostitutes. By the end, the story is much more than that, full of love stories, tragedies, and a city full of Nazis. Tara Varney does a remarkable job directing this piece with her inclusion of dance, lights, meaningful conventions, and casting.
Here are the good things:
1. Use of the acting space and minimal set design. I personally hate the usage of blocks as furniture in plays, but this time, to my chagrin, the blocks did the job just fine. The blocking was minimal but still managed to take up a majority of the stage without seeming unnecessary.
2. The casting. Everyone seemed rather perfect for their respective parts, with special note going to Marcie Ramirez and Parry Luellen as the doctors, Andy Garrison as Himmler, and Amy Hurrelbrink as Haschen Potthast. In the action and fully caring about the story they were telling, these actors were, as far as I'm concerned, the reason why I enjoyed this piece as much as I did.
3. The music. Interjected in all the right places, the music was subtle enough to be effective without being distracting.
4. Usage of Audience Imagination. The old convention, "mime the props," was actually meaningful in this play (as opposed to many other plays who just don't want to (or can't) find the props and use the convention as a mere secondary option). The whole idea of "Real vs. Imagined" was a particularly strong notion throughout this play (whether intentionally or unintentionally). I'm not sure if having the stage managers call the show and having the actors do all their changes and preparations for the show on the sides of the stage was to give heed to the idea of "Real vs. Imagined," but it certainly felt that way to me. This real play is telling the somewhat-imagined story of Hitler dispatching fake dolls, which became real to certain soldiers. The actors were imagining real props. After I left the theatre, I realized what an incredible mind-screw it had actually been. And I was impressed.
Here is the bad thing:
1. The piece started to get boring after a little bit, but only because it got too convoluted to follow. It seemed like every now and again, a large plot point would creep up and be important to the action; but in between those plot points, the actors sped through some intricate language that made the audience miss the details of the story. Jokes were missed and nuances were ignored because the clarity was sacrificed -- either through the writing or the acting. So sad…because I'm sure that with clarity, the jokes and nuance would have only worked in favor of this production's value.
Conclusively, I left the theater feeling slightly gypped -- either because the piece was not what I expected to see or because it did not match the hype. I wish I could say more of the production; it had good actors, good direction, good technical aspects, and it was a good idea. But in random moments, I was just bored.