The official title of this one-man show at New City Theater—Flushed: Into the World of Water Treatment—doesn’t quite capture what this production is about. This is bigger than just water treatment. Stokley Towles answers the question: “after we flush, where does it all go?” with a 50 minute performance that moves back and forward in both time and geography. Towles’s other art performances have included such very common experiences as global perspectives on drinking water (Waterlines, an art/information exhibit inside a trailer); Trash Talk: the social life of garbage; and special classes of public servants such as police and librarians. His focus is people, real people here in Seattle and King County, and how we work and interact with our material possessions and the larger environment.
Given the topic of this piece, what might one want to know? Perhaps, how have toilets evolved over time and across various cultures? Are there any clever toilets around the world? When did King County begin to treat all of its waste water? What do the people who work with sewage call what’s in the sewage? Can a stay-at-home dad get a little relief from the duties of parenting small children while he’s on the loo?
Yes, see answers to these and many other questions in this performance. Everything is kept stripped down. We actually assembled in the foyer of the theater. About 30 people can squeeze into the space if a few are comfortable sitting on cushions on the floor. Towles performs standing, which allows him great freedom to gesture and move about the stage to animate his experiences and the story of what happens when we flush.
Towles delves into things too common for most of us to take much notice, and by delving and researching and coming back to share what he discovers he becomes both a pioneer and a mirror. In Flush Towles finds yet again one of the universal elements that connects us all in an endless loop.
Flushed: Into the World of Water Treatment, written and performed by Stokley Towles. Runtime: 50-minute, no intermission. Suitable for ages 7 to adult (the word shit is used once). New City Theater, 1404 18th Avenue. April 25 through May 10. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at Noon. Tickets $10 to $15 available at brownpapertickets.com. Closes May 10.