- While other reviews (see: Brooklyn Exposed and Theatre Is Easy) have been discussing the technical feats of THE SERVICE ROAD's eerie fantasia alternaverse of Prospect Park, little has been said about the successful synthesis of technicality and poetry. Having seen it on its opening night, I have a feeling there were several bumps in the (service) road, but contrary to other opinions, I for one felt the piece as a whole was a powerful and beautiful blend of mixed media and puppetry. The artistic elements served and enhanced Erin Courtney's touchstones of nature, dark hidden truths, and alluring and exotic weirdness.
- While much can be said for the performances of the puppeteer, Caroline Tamas, who gave not only movement, but a living voice and face to the Large-Headed Toddler (a lost little boy [a Lost Boy?] alone in the park), I also want to laud Cory Einbinder's multiple costume/character changes. A particular favorite of mine was his teenage Brooklyn-ite, although his adult lonely-hearts bachelor was also true-to-life, even if all the scattered characters were variations of Wonderland mentors and protectors for the female lead, Alice, I mean Lia, played by Kalle Macrides.
- The characters were rich and deep, and smartly costumed by Tilly Grimes, but oddly, and I think inappropriately, flattened by the direction of downtown fave, Meghan Finn. Not to weigh too heavily on Finn, but I have yet to be truly impressed by her work, although I enjoyed the production of Motel Cherry for its content and design. Finn's choice of a slow and spaced out line delivery seemed forced upon Macrides and Einbinder as they uncomfortably paced out sentences as if in a play for children. Macrides's character, Lia, has a stunted maturity, and the exaggerated vocal pacing made her appear even more childlike in a children's environment. I suppose I was hoping for a world more like Wonderland or Neverland, wherein a child is surrounded by adults for an adult audience. To place a character so out of sync with her surroundings might have clarified how Lia avoids responsibility in multiple forms. The line delivery was universal, which dulled the text and bored the audience, which is a shame because Courtney writes so brilliantly. The only reprieve from the vocal lifelessness was when the only responsible character, Lia's boss who even claims, "I am responsible," rejects Lia in a moving and heartbreaking renunciation. I longed for a glint of life amongst the broken trees, the cold metal carousel, the carcasses of birds, the skeletons of dogs, the video screens of non-material conscious entities... and the humans did not provide it. There is one other vital vocal moment: the final moment, a crying, lost, but saved child.
- Certainly, the technical qualities were outstanding. The piece was, after all, part of Adhesive Theater Project's residency with New York City College of Technology, and several set pieces and properties were devised by City Tech students. The set had impressive functionality as trees were destroyed in front of our eyes during the sudden tornado that blows through Kansas, I mean Park Slope. Illustrations and animations by Claire Moodey and Erin Courtney herself, who has a background in visual art, delight the eye while our ears tingle with Mark Bruckner's innovative sound design. A standout element of the overall design is definitely the live foley, designed, composed, and performed by Bruckner and assisted by Moodey.
- Adhesive describes the (anti)heroin, Lia, as a "modern day Hercules," and Greek tragic elements are not subtle in the text. Lia even explains to the quirky Carousel operator, Linus, that the Greek myths are horrible. While on her quest through the ruined city park, Lia is also haunted and guided by 3 egg-shaped furies, who sit loftily on high in a tree nest. The culmination of the play occurs in a deus-ex-crane. But as I've already established, I saw more cross-overs with other lost-girls-on-a-surprisingly-dark-quest motifs, such as Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz.
- Even with its mythical and literary crossovers, and though it is the second play, in a row, to cover its protagonist in excrement, THE SERVICE ROAD is endlessly original. I never knew which way the road would twist, and I felt as though I was the lost boy in the park myself: scared, confused, isolated while surrounded by sound and light, and mystified by the wonders I encountered along the journey.