The Sandman’s Coming
nytheatre.com review by Case Aiken
February 23, 2013
Anya Gibian and Nelson Patino Jr. in a scene from The Sandman's Coming
It is a rare occasion that I walk out of a show and have no idea what I just saw, and that may be the case here. The Sandman’s Coming is a new work brought to us by the Brain Melt Consortium as part of the Frigid Festival at Under St. Marks. A multimedia infused movement piece, the show depicts the struggles of heroine addiction through projections, dance, and nursery rhymes. Now I’ll admit, I’m neither a dancer nor a heroin addict (yay?), so there might be some crucial elements in play here that passed right by me. Ultimately I’m giving the show the benefit of the doubt, as the choreography was very good and the projections used were suitably abstract to invoke the nihilistic nature of the substance, but I took much of the performance to circle around the same point without really providing new insight or information. Everything in the presentation is well done, but I couldn’t identify much development in the admittedly non-continuous narrative presented through most of the show. I took it as the show emphasizing how seductive and over-powering the nature of addiction can be, but I might have missed some of the more nuanced elements of that.
Lantie Tom plays the personification of Heroin as “The Heroine”, an enrapturing seductress that has make up like Bizarro Superman and spouts children’s rhymes as she enthralls Nelson Patino JR’s “User” and pulls him away from Anya Gibian’s “Watcher”. The Watcher asks us to reflect on the person who fell into addiction but we never see much of the man before, so it becomes more of a thought exercise rather than an experience. The Heroine always pulls us back into the world of addiction here, so we never break through the mists of the past to see the User’s roots. The way this plays out certainly highlights the way addiction colors our perception of people and is very satisfying to watch.
In doing a little research on the group, I found that the Brain Melt Consortium is the same one responsible for The Daughters of Lot which is a show that I very much enjoyed and had a similar non-linear story with abstract elements, but I feel that The Sandman’s Coming was over reaching a bit by dwelling a great deal of time on the central premise without overtly introducing other elements to draw focus. Creator/Director, Molly Ballerstein, and choreographer, Dana Boll, have made an interesting show which has some really strong elements (performance, media, choreography, etc.) but it spends too much time reveling in those things. A tighter production with brisker running time would make this show work a great deal better and make it far easier for this reviewer to avoid making puns about the Sandman coming for him.