nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
August 11, 2006
I certainly like theatre that is bold and experimental. Pitched made me want to lean in and listen a little closer because the playwright spins some lyrical webs of words that grabbed my attention. However, the more I listened the more I felt like I was being led down a path that dead-ends. I enjoyed watching Pitched, it weaves together some surreal scenes that you'd see nowhere else except in the theatre, but I had to work too much to understand what was going on.
The play seems to center around seven girls named Robin. They chant a little song with a childlike melody that equates them to seven nations and dance about speaking in unison. There is an eighth Robin but she spells her name with a "y" and they don't wanna play with her. There are two army guys in a forced march who are juxtaposed with a couple of snobby Fifth Avenue shoppers who are engaged in a forced march of their own. There are also two tourists, dressed appallingly alike, who are lost. They bicker like an old couple that knows how to push each other's buttons. There are a couple of offstage voices—one is a drill sergeant who makes the two grunts occasionally do push-ups and the other is the voice of the largest doll in the world. We only see the giant legs and feet of the doll and he only says one thing (until the end) which is "I am the largest doll in the whole wide world." Finally there are two guys, one of whom is trying to bury his secret (I'm not sure what the secret is or if it was ever revealed to us), and the other is his friend whose purpose I'm not entirely sure of.
Playwright Susan Melinda Dunlap creates some really interesting wordplay but I felt like I didn't know the name of the game—like I was watching a sport for which I didn't know the rules or the object. There are so many things going on and I was trying to make connections but I never could. The text of Pitched is like a bouquet of flailing extension cords that want to plug into something but never actually do.
Luckily director Luke Leonard gives us a clear vision for the show's look and style. There is never a dull moment on his stage. There is more than enough action, dance, light, movement, and sound to fill the evening. Leonard gives almost every actor in the ensemble some interesting business and he keeps everyone on the same bizarre acting-style page. The ensemble is a beautifully flowing force that made me watch them. Joanie Ellen, who plays Robyn, is most memorable for her consistent quirks and odd deliveries. Also notable is Denise DeMirjian for her eccentric roller coaster portrayal of the wife half of the lost tourist couple.
There is live music throughout the show that mostly sounds like ambient guitar pluckings with heavy reverb. Matt Horton is credited as the composer and I assume he performed his tunes but he's not credited. I enjoyed the music quite a bit. It adds a nice layer to a densely packed show. Also, Prisca Ouya does a good job with the choreography of the seven Robins.
I would recommend Pitched for those interested in a pure theatrical experience. Taking risks and making bold choices is what keeps theatre from dying away and it's what the Fringe is all about.