DELAWARE - A Subtle Spectacular
Written by Tim Sanders
Directed by Matt Fontaine
Music by "Awesome"
Re-bar, through 26 February
I'm just going to lay this out in a nutshell: for the most sublime theatrical experience you've had in some time, check out this piece currently running at Re-bar.
A visual, aural and tactile extravaganza, "Delaware - A Subtle Spectacular" has all the elements of a dada-esque evening of spoken word, musical immersions, and visual delights -- plus, waffles. Lots and lots of hot, crispy, buttery, waffles, all of which will leave your eyes sated, your ears tingled, your funnybone tickled and your tongue dripping with syrupy goodness.
"Delaware" is a musical/theatrical melange bursting full-born from the brows of local theatre art-rockers "Awesome" (John Ackermann, Kirk Anderson, Basil Harris, Evan Mosher, John Osebold, and the aetherial presence of Rob Witmer), interspersed with short scenes and monologues by local playwright Tim Sanders, and all under the direction of Matt Fontaine. Don't expect anything in the way of a coherent plot; the effect is a more dreamlike, kalaeidoscopic sensorial experience that stretches the creative possibilities of performance in ways that will surprise, delight and intrigue -- imagine if The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" had been produced by Frank Zappa, and staged by Ernie Kovacs and you begin to get some idea of what to expect -- and the waffles! Did I mention the waffles?
Thanks to the meticulous production design of local musical legend Mark Nichols, "Awesome" has never sounded better. Vocal harmonies merge and overlap with stereophonic precision, and the music is crisp, clean, and suffused with the band's signature atmospheric collision of styles and instrumentations (who else would ever consider pairing mandolin and theremin?). The musical production is supported by a solid cast of local performers: Mark Boeker, Tracy Repep, and Montana von Fliss handling the airy, often raucously funny dialogue, Eric Ray Anderson playing a half dozen vintage waffle makers like they were musical instruments themselves, and The Stranger's Brendan Kiley interspersing the various bits and pieces with a series of nonsensical "factoids", all of whom embrace Sanders luminous dialogue with abandon. Director Fontaine shifts the pacing from high-speed comedy to languid introspection, perfectly matching the band's musical moods. The result is a true "synergy" where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
If all this sounds gushinginly nebulous, well then, so be it. "Delaware" needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated, and there is little here that could possibly disappoint. The various structural elements all blend, merge, and flow through each other in ways that at first defy logic or meaning. But, like our dreams, they eventually submerge the audience into a world of subconscious free-association that can really only be taken on its own terms. The audience is simply carried along on a series of loosely connected images and metaphors that gradually coalesce into a sort of waking dream state that settles over one like the warm comfort of a familiar old blanket.