Apr 142010
Authors: Savannah King

Sex, drugs and rock and roll doesn’t even begin to cover the content in CSU’s newest production, “Polaroid Stories,” by Naomi Iizuka that debuted on Wednesday.

The show, directed by Walt Jones, is set on an abandoned pier on the outskirts of a city and portrays a group of depraved street children acting out loose interpretations of myths in Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” ­­–– very loose interpretations.

In fact, even those knowledgeable in mythology should not expect to recognize more than a few hints at the underlying stories, which are renowned myths as “Echo and Narcissus,” “Orpheus and Eurydice” and “The Rape of Persephone.”

But then, that’s the point, says Jeff Garland, a sophomore theater major who plays Narcissus.

“It’s really more of an experience,” he said. “You shouldn’t understand.”

Senior theater major Christina Fontana, who plays Eurydice, agreed, saying, “Just don’t look for a plot.”

The audience could be more than distracted enough by the abortion, abuse, nudity, suicide and various other taboo aspects of the show though, so viewers probably won’t be worried about those nagging little plot holes anyway.

It would seem the main point, rather than for the audience to follow any real sort of plot, is actually to verse them in the harsh world of those on the outskirts of society.

Considering the actors’ admirable dedication to portraying these characters in a most alarming, and often disturbing way, it’s a lesson that may make audience members squirm a bit.

“We want to make the audience uncomfortable. We’re trying to show how the real world is,” said senior theater major Caty Pucci, who plays Persephone.

In addition to the actors’ filthy appearances, including tattoos and ragged, in some cases disturbing, costumes (or lack thereof), most scenes contain a considerable amount of profanity and also include full nudity and some downright startling violence.

In one scene, a girl is thrown violently against a chain-link fence while being sexually assaulted and choked by the very man professing to love her as he screams in her face.

In another, a fully naked man bolts out of car to the right of the stage after indulging in drugs.

In yet another, a skinhead girl utters the pathetic mantra “ain’t no monsters –– not for real” in response to her boyfriend’s verbal cruelty.

When asked how the cast reacted to playing such harsh characters, Jones conceded that everyone probably “had a hard time relating and understanding their character’s point of view.”

Many members of the cast came to the consensus that they felt their character’s actions were “disgusting,” or as a senior theater major Luke Peckinpaugh, who plays “D,” puts it: “fun to play at the time, but then hard to watch.”

Jones revealed that the characters and their distressing actions are actually based on authentic interviews the playwright conducted with troubled youth, lending the production both its mythology from the number of children with god complexes and the bulk of its disturbingly real, raw and slightly psychotic qualities.

“If you go away with a smile on your face, then we’ve done something wrong,” said Peckinpaugh of the show’s vicious realism.

“Polaroid Stories” does have its brief moments of humor and hope –– a man wrapping a scraggly tree in Christmas lights, the Disney princess mirror Narcissus constantly preens in, or just the very fact that a car somehow made its way into the theater.

But, the show is certainly what Jones calls “unexpected,” “provocative,” and a “challenge to the audience,” both in terms of its untraditional structure and extremely socially unacceptable behavior.

“I hope the audience will watch and take the show at face value,” Jones said. “You need to evaluate each scene by itself … it’s tough stuff.”

Jones does promise that the show will be striking to every audience member, each in their own way.

“Everyone will walk away with something different,” he promised.

While the production is surely a departure from normal theater, it will almost definitely live up to the claim of Fontana that “this show is nothing you’ve ever seen on stage before.”

Verve reporter Savannah King can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:13 pm

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