nytheatre.com review by Leslie Bramm
Wasting Zen at the TNC Cabaret is a fine mixture of hard abs,
pubic hair, and neck napes drenched in sweat. The story goes something
like this. World War Three has happened. We are in a nameless American
City. An artist has been commissioned to paint Satan’s (?) portrait,
while struggling to find his muse. In the blackouts we hear radio
broadcasts that serve as exposition and pinpoint the state of the world
and the fact that the apocalypse was recent.
August 15, 2002
The idea of radio broadcasts to disseminate information has already been used in specific fringe plays. Now, we all nick a bit from each other, but at times it seemed as if the text was lifted directly from these other plays. That combined with songs lyrics snuck in from Bob Marley and others makes one think, hmmm…
While it did illustrate that we as a species have wrought this future on ourselves, Wasting Zen lacks some of the essential plot points necessary to drive its message home. The production comes across as inconsistent in terms of writing, directing, and acting. I think the problem lies in these three facts, written by, directed by and starring Adam Hardman. This hat trick is often the recipe for trouble. Wasting Zen would benefit from an outside eye and good dramaturgy.
The setting, lights and sound track all serve the piece well, creating a dark and stark post nuke world. Even the intense heat in the theatre added ambience. No credit is given to a costume designer who has done a fine job mixing colors between bleak blacks, vibrant reds, and soothing whites.
Finally, some (hopefully) constructive thoughts: 1) Graphically simulated sex scenes look silly not erotic. 2) Never point a gun in the face of the audience. 3) Screaming and thrashing do not equal detailed and rich characterization.