The Shorebound Swim With A One Click Kick: A Tragedy Of Reason
nytheatre.com review by Maria Micheles
February 23, 2011
The lights go up as a voice through a loudspeaker announces the temperature, air pressure, latitude, time, and other details, in what seems to be a perfectly administered theatrical operation.
The playwright and also co-director, Markus Paminger, along with director Alison Carroll, have smartly placed three characters on stage that compel you in different ways to pay attention to what they’re partaking in: the young guy who’s standing in his underwear trying to capture the attention and love of a way-too-old-for-him female, who happens to be speaking on an old-fashioned telephone wearing headphones, and the man using a shock device to conduct some experiment on himself. Could it be that the latter is in the future, the woman is in the past, and young Victor, whose innocence is captured by Nicko Libowitz, is in la-la-land—that is, in romance land, a land of its own, from which every character in the play warns him to get away, as it happens to be the most dangerous?
The play revolves around the pseudo-mad-scientist-like Nicholas, wonderfully played by William Kozy, who’s believable as he exhibits a strange humaneness in his serious though somewhat sadistic pursuits. His first words to a fish he’s about to electrocute are:
Don’t worry little buddy, it’ll only hurt for a second. Trust me…Would you rather be eaten? Just fuel for some bigger fish?...You are better than fuel. You are mine. You will serve a higher purpose. Consider yourself lucky.
And then post-facto:
You shouldn’t be complaining…I cut very, very cleanly. I keep my knives very sharp.
To be as productive as possible, Nicholas both works and sleeps in his laboratory, where the only piece of furniture is a table, which is also used as a bed. He’s discovered a way of applying electrical shocks to himself until he passes out, dropping on the floor, where his assistant, played by Robin Madel, who eventually visits, awakens him or transfers him onto the table. What use can a bed or comfort have in a world where all things are being utilized to increase efficiency? And medicines are freely administered to bring about most desired states. No, comfort is as unnecessary here as balloons are.
What’s surprisingly nice in the world of the play is that all professions are acceptable, and respected, including the profession of a loose woman, Natalie, who is portrayed by a naturally beautiful rather than embalmed-looking young woman named Emma Worth, and has the same hopes and aspirations as any other legitimately functioning person in society, speaking her mind openly and whimsically, as someone who still holds the world in her hands instead of being disenchanted. Natalie sort of pops up in the play, symbolizing a blossom in a too scientific and austere background, and much desired and sought after for being exactly what she is.
What’s interesting as the play unfolds is how romance slowly manages to creep its way into this world. But the old love plot, whose repetition has become like nails on a blackboard, still surfaces even after new research, accumulation of more knowledge from experiments on it, have been dealt with and solved. It also turns out that rejection can still be delivered on the subject of desire and can be experienced in the harshest way possible.
The Shorebound Swim With a One Click Kick is the first of this year's FRIGID New York plays in The Red Room, and it definitely shows promise in making the audience come back for more shows, that don’t go over an hour and keep you smartly entertained.