Don't Be Scared! It's Only A Play
nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
August 24, 2009
Don't Be Scared! It's Only a Play is a solo show by Cory Antiel. In this brief show, Antiel deals with horror, terror, memories, amnesia, lab rats, and Oliver Sacks. Antiel's style is very conversational. Actually it was almost as if the theatre was filled with his friends—so that seems entirely fitting. As the play began, the audience was informed that "the terror level has been elevated to fuchsia and the horror level has been elevated to periwinkle." To better illustrate this point, there were two different colored Post-Its under every seat, one fuchsia with the word "Terror" written on it and one purple with the word "Horror" on it. Audience members were asked to raise the one they felt appropriately described their feelings about different news stories he read the titles of. And there was a third option—that you are lying to yourself. I raised neither for any of them and was told that I was lying to myself.
There was also another audience participation part to the show, where Cory asked us things that we feared—and he wrote them on Post-Its and stuck them to the walls and such. The audience called out many different things (I was inclined to say that I feared audience participation at shows I was attending but felt that would have been rude). As Cory was discussing the fears and memories and forgetting of them, an interesting thing occurred: the Post-Its were falling off of the brick, which produced a really pretty effect and helped illustrate Antiel's point. Whether or not this was planned, it was very interesting to watch.
Don't Be Scared! It's Only a Play has a very interesting subject matter and Antiel is a charismatic performer, but there seems to be something missing. The transitions from his moments of amnesia are not believable. The show relies too much on audience participation and the structure is a bit confused. There are also too many imaginary props to keep track of. The show also feels a lot more like a lecture or informal speech than a play. I can see the point Antiel wants to make, but the way he gets there suffers from a lack of focus of information.
At one point during the show Antiel asked us if we got the pill that was under our seat. It was imaginary. We were told that the pill made things better. We were given the option to take it or not—I opted not to take it. Who knows, if I had taken it, maybe Don't Be Scared! It's Only a Play would have seemed better; or maybe I'm lying to myself.