nytheatre.com review by Gregg Bellon
Entering PS122’s upstairs performing space from the brightness of
noontime Sunday, I am thrust into "a vast emptiness… a place with no
space," save for four spotlighted, outrageously styled characters
engaged in physical non-sequiturs to the wailing of Tom Waits. Welcome
to the obscurity, ambiguity, and absurdity of The Corner, the New
York debut of writer/director Michelle Diaz and her company, Wreckio.
Hi, hello, Mr. Beckett… Hello, hi, Mr. Ionesco… it’s Ms. Michelle Diaz
knocking on your proverbial door.
August 15, 2002
The lights go to black; the music fades; a single, wide spotlight fades up; and Two (Dechelle Damien) is seated center, bug-eyed through thick prescription bifocals, maniacally taking notes in a mini notepad that’s tethered to her skirt. Almost immediately, One (Karly Maurer), a diva-like has-been, comes literally flying on stage, expelled from somewhere into the nowhere of the here, her purse trailing her from the void, her make-up garishly Baby-Jane-ish. I realize rather quickly that any plot that pops up as the show continues would only be a slight diversion from the true scope of The Corner, the exploration of and experimentation with modes and forms. Eventually, the remaining characters, Three (Haydee Escobar), a 12-year-old, Catholic-schoolgirl triple threat, and Four (Randi Berry), a bearded testosterone-inspired, drag-king murderer, join us. And once complete, this group really embraces the deconstructionist intentions of Diaz and locks in to some solid ensemble work, highlighted by a painful, yet hilarious, group rendition of Wilson Phillip’s "Hold On." Their individual strengths maintain the integrity of the whole.
Cast and crew biographies confirm their common New World University (Miami) training, and even their professional credits overlap. They make us laugh, though (especially this friend-heavy crowd that made me homesick and nostalgic for Miami). So, we have fun, Diaz’s only condition. Her Director’s Note on the program cover prepares you for "an exploration of limitations." Near the end, One says, (I paraphrase) "How can I learn lessons now that I’m dead?"—a line that alludes to a theme but doesn’t hold the piece together enough. With all due respect to its professionalism and execution, The Corner feels somewhat like school work.