nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
August 18, 2007
See this show.
Because it reminds us how rarely, and how inaccurately, we too often see each other and ourselves. On the subway after seeing Dirt, I thought hard about how I was looking at the strangers around me: the generalizations I was making about them; the lack of eye contact. See this show.
"My name is Sad. I'm 30 years old." We hear this phrase repeatedly throughout this one-man play, in different incarnations. Sometimes he says he's 25 instead, sometimes he follows it with phrases such as "I'm a piece of shit. I won't contest that." Sad is a self-degrading illegal immigrant from Iraq, a peddler of roses, a self-confessed liar, a lover of America. He is the product of racism; he knows he is inferior, he knows he doesn't deserve to look an American in the eye, or sit on a park bench, or use a public toilet. Sad's monologue, directed straight at us, jumps back and forth. Through repetition, in spite of the lies, we see greater layers of truth, of who he is, where he came from, and where he now lives. But predominantly we are left with how terribly he views himself in comparison to the beautiful fair-skinned Americans.
See this show. The script, written by Robert Schneider and translated from German by Paul Dvorak, is rich, poetic, and unique. Christopher John Domig is captivating, highly skilled, and utterly heartbreaking as Sad. David Robinson's direction is smart and beautiful, relying heavily on contrasts (Sad mercilessly biting into a raw onion whilst talking of how beautiful America is and how cheap the apples are; Sad telling us not to be afraid at the same time he is lit only from a candle he holds below his chin, the classic scary story pose). Greg Brostrom's lighting and sound design are at one moment so subtle they are barely perceptible and at others dramatic and even horrifying. The elements come together with skill and precision, creating a true piece of art.
See this show. Dirt is intense and sad and difficult to watch. It demands a great deal from its audience. This is not a show to lose yourself in. The entire time, I was acutely aware of my own presence, that I was sitting there, watching Sad. And I was aware of how I was viewing him, the judgments I was making about him and it parlayed into how I view people in life.
See this show. Dirt is a remarkable piece of theatre—deep, emotional, and thought-provoking.