Through November 22
BIG BREATH Alleyway Theatre/on-line
Some people aren’t handling this long lockdown and quarantine very well.
They want what used to be, while facing more endless months of illness and death and limited prospect that a vaccine or many vaccines are going to make a difference any time soon.
The Woman in Elizabeth Gjelten’s very short “Big Breath” is cracking under the stress of current life.
Elizabeth Stanley’s character is both the victim of too long in lockdown and of a piece of her brain (also Stanley) telling her she has to get out, walk down those outside stairs and take a chance on the outside world, in hope that it will ease her overpowering anxiety and distress.
Director Ansley Valentine is working with multi-screen video to help tell the story without resorting to just a performer along on a stage, another attempt to overcome empty theaters and empty seats and thinly populated streets.
We see the better half of her brain popping into the smaller screens on each side of the struggling main character and when we don’t see that advisor, we see beautiful green grass and woodland, the places so many are going for a break from the awful realities of the illness and the deaths of close friends and just the general stress of the dark tunnel the future appears to be.
Look around and see how many of your physically present friends or co-workers appear to be falling apart, struggling to deal with the endlessly awful present, looking ahead like you look at one of those massive grey cloud banks of winter and knowing what’s ahead as the storms of winter loom.
Grey skies, grey light and none of the greenery Valentine is using in Gjelten’s play.
Stanley has the skill to deal with the deepening anxiety of the sole character on the screen.
But, are the rest of us?
The people we know or the stories on that relatively small box in the living room or the family room are telling stories we can’t isolate from.
Now, we’re sucked into those stories because it’s our story and “Big Breath” is a depressing, harrowing and relatively well done look at what life is doing to more and more of us.
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