This month Theatre Junction Grand showed the production of “Somewhere Between Now and when the Sun Goes Supernova” which was written by the theatre’s own artistic director, Mark Lawes.
The set consisted of an impressive screen which wrapped around the three edges of the stage. There was a kitchen stage left, a sun tanning chair, an old armchair with matching outdated television set, and an uncovered mattress. The play was based upon ‘scientific’ findings, included the results from polling the audience before the play even started, about human nature and the decline of creativity. The play’s narrative depicts a man who drinks too much beer and primarily watches pornography, a neurotic girlfriend who takes all kinds of pharmaceuticals to cope with life, a french sex-kitten singer, dancer, smoker, sunbather who seems to be looking for authenticity, and the onlooking scientist, Lawes himself, who intermittently makes comments about the behaviour of humans, and sometimes animals.
Interspersed in all the interaction between the above-mentioned characters are clever muli-media additions including cinematographic backdrops on the big screen depicting Joshua Tree National Park and and live filmed dialogue scenes that are played back and screened minutes after being taped. The multi-media adds a frenetic element to the play as there is always movement and sound, often happening in more than one area of the stage. Aside from fusing film with theatre, the play even combines multiple languages, at times having French monologues subtitled on the big screen behind the actors. This over-active depiction of life is an obvious commentary on the fast-paced, global, multi-tasking nature of today’s society. In fact, the play’s closing essay suggests a death in creativity in our society that has been replaced by, you guessed it, shopping, drugs, and pornography.
This play has many redeeming qualities aside from the fact that it is a smorgasbord for the senses. It challenges our perception of live theatre by adding elements that are unconventional and, at times, uncomfortable. The actors do a wonderful job creating cohesion out of chaos, and there were many memorable scenes that only live theatre can accomplish: red helium-filled balloons repeatedly being carried up an aluminum ladder, on-stage pitch-and-putt. And, as much as I value commentary on today’s society and however much I agree with the fact that over-consumption and laziness are poignent realities of our world, I value art suggesting it to me, rather than preaching it as an eternal truth. Much of what was depicted in the play, the decline of art and the unhealthy addictions we have created to fill the voids, could have been suggested through the action on stage rather than spelled out for us in many of the narrated parts of the play. That being said, could I have written and produced this play? No. Could I have made the audience think about the disturbing parts of our society as creatively as this play did? Probably not. But I would always give the audience enough credit to surmise the deeper meaning behind art, because, after all, isn’t that liberating part of art what art is all about?