Snappy Dialogue Diluted by Performance Whatever
Whenever a reviewer is assigned a “show” described as a “bizarre performance art” involving “clowing, improv, movement etc. ”, one puts the brakes on one’s expectations and does not exactly expect a well-made play. Given that limitation As a Beaver and an Artist, was in fact not only extremely entertaining, containing some excellent witty dialogue, but expressed, through black humor, profound truths about human existence and more importantly, the uncontrollable changes occurring in life.
The show opened with a faux forest scene on one side and a Seattle style café on the other, where three of four friends are gathered for their regular coffee-klatsch. Like teen-age girls going through puberty or first-time pregnant women discussing their pregnancies or better yet, the over 40’s discussing menopausal symptoms, the three women discuss how their bodies are involuntarily turning into Beavers. Various ranges of acceptance/denial are expressed by the three. It also seemed to be a metaphor for coming out of the closet or as the younger generation would say, acceptance of one’s counter-hetero-normative identification. It could also be about the process of transitioning from one biological gender to another.
In this scene the dialogue was hilarious and the exposition was swift. Following that, a few scenes of the performance art type followed, which were entirely random and had no connection to the given circumstances set up in the first scene.
Beaver Beth as Panic Beaver played by Lauren Skelton pulled off the best scene in the whole play as she parodies a transitioning Beaver seeking therapy and trying to make the best of it. Through a long monologue where she discussed serious existential questions, she engaged the audience with humor and sincere emotion.
After that, the evening disintegrated into gimmicks, which was unfortunate as whoever was writing the dialogue was extremely talented and the premise of the play was profound and the gimmicks added nothing. Hopefully the team of writers, Bella Bijoux, Lauren Skelton, Heidi Von Haught, and Randi Rascal, will re-work the material and deliver a “well-made” play
As a Beaver and An Artist. Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike (11th Ave at E. Pike St) Pike/Pine Corridor, Capitol Hill, Seattle 98122. Fri, Sat 8 pm thru Nov. 28 Tickets: annextheatre.org