Hot Pineapples Fermenting in the Sun
nytheatre.com review by Eric Winick
August 15, 2004
Avant-garde’s a tricky thing to pull off. It requires, more often than not, patience on the part of the audience, which must labor (often in vain) to find meaning within a gnarled structure, or to put disparate scenes of chaos into something resembling order.
I’ll be honest. I’ve just returned from seeing Hot Pineapples Fermenting in the Sun, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what it’s about. And believe me, I’ve seen, and occasionally enjoyed, a good deal of experimental theater. Let me take a look at the press release. Maybe that’ll clarify things.
“An elegiac ‘anti-narrative,’ the work… boldly uses the classical relationships between Agamemnon and Iphigenia as a blueprint, as well as the model of Pavlovian stimulus-response experiments, [to] explore and explode notions of American nationalism, blind patriotism, and the collapse of the individual blighted by endless media-streams and bellicose doctrines.”
Since this is a review, and I’m obligated to give you a sense of the experience of watching this play, allow me to present the following observations:
- The play is credited to two authors: Mia Sorensen, and one Efiginia Fulcrum, who is, to some extent, the play’s focal point, in that the play is Ms. Sorensen/Fulcrum’s attempt to determine the true meaning of her name, which has something to do with her mother’s love of soap operas and the Greek Iphigenia cycle.
- The play contains several cacaphonous scenes in which its nine actors talk, scream, sing, and shout inexplicable, seemingly unrelated lines, often simultaneously, while words are randomly lobbed in from offstage.
- There are several digital video sequences, shot by Sean Peter Genell, in which a young newscaster interacts with Efiginia’s (onstage) mother in an attempt to determine (a) the writer’s true identity, and (b) why Ms. Fulcrum is now, mysteriously, dead.
- There are discussions about the state of Iowa, from which Efiginia allegedly hails, as well as debates by two men called “Frederick Motherfucking Jameson.”
Starting to get the picture? Ultimately, as its title implies, Hot Pineapples is pure self-indulgence, a college project that should never have been performed outside the classroom. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a place for avant-garde performance art in this world. But wouldn’t it be possible, every now and then, to let the rest of us in on the joke?