by KIMBERLY PAU
On Wednesday, August 14th, I had the pleasure of seeing Greencard Wedding’s The Skype Show or See You in August at the Fringe. The play is being presented at the White Box at 440 Studios, which feels less like a theater than a big beige institutional waiting room. I was pleased to find that director Aaron Simms utilized the room in a way that made it warm and welcoming and by the end of the show I had been transported from a Crown Height’s apartment to the white noise, static world of wifi-land where electronic transmissions yield emotion and the memories of these transactions linger in the air like a milky residue.
Skype is a character in this piece, the liaison between Greencard Wedding partner performers Jody and Michael who had been managing a complicated creative relationship while living together in Brooklyn before Michael was sent home to Amsterdam at the end of his student visa. The story unfolds as a collection of conversations over Skype in which the pair attempts to maintain their creative connection while battling inconsistent internet connectivity and the inevitable consequences of their living apart. Simms sense of timing pays off building suspense as we wait longer and longer for the calls to be answered as the show goes on. Jody Christopherson, playing a version of herself in the show, sits alone on stage behind her laptop, speaking with Michael de Roos, who is displayed projected behind her. Christopherson’s presence is grounding. Her vulnerability brings an intimacy to the setting early on that invites the audience to engage with the conundrum she is facing. De Roos, also playing a version of himself, plays off her, his rock, like a beat boxer might. He also beat boxes masterfully in the show. He is lively, spontaneous, zany and looks great on camera.
Projections are ubiquitous in today’s theater and have been around since the 1650’s, when Christiaan Huygens was reported to have invented “the magic lantern” or “laterna magica.” Its images were used to create large, ominous monsters and images of the devil. In The Skype Show, the projection embodies Skype, the device used to keep the character’s collaboration humming after they are separated. As it was in the 17th century, the result successfully produces a foreboding recognition. These characters are apart; like star-crossed lovers, unable to play music at the same time, no longer listening to each other’s vibrations, at the mercy of their wifi, and in this case, also the theater’s. The technology simultaneously allows them the ability to see each other while reminding them of what cannot be. It is this tension that drives the play forward.
However, unlike Romeo and Juliet, whom Michael and Jody momentarily embody, it is unclear in The Skype Show if the characters are actually in love and somehow unready for a real marriage, or if Jody’s love is just unrequited. As the action of the play is resolved we are left to wonder whether there is a romantic rendezvous in the character’s future or if their musical partnership will yield adequate returns to keep them together as they continue to face issues with geographic proximity.
I recommend seeing the show if you are interested in the affect technology plays on creating and maintaining connections in our society, as I believe the conversation it spurs is very relevant to us all. I also wouldn’t miss the chance to see the miraculous David Anzuelo as Unka Dave, Jody’s guitar teacher, who’s DVD she watches throughout. He is a one-of-a-kind, 1000-watt light bulb aiming straight for your heart. I am still laughing with him as I write this.
VENUE #15: The White Box at 440 Studios
SAT 10 @ 7:00 WED 14 @ 9:00 FRI 16 @ 5:00 SAT 17 @ 5:00 THU 22 @ 9:00 SUN 25 @ 3:30