Pictured: (foreground) Jennifer Cheung, (background l-r) Adam Soule, Elise Spoerlein, and Evan Linder. Photo by Matthew Freer.
I remember waking up the morning after the election absolutely astounded by the results whilst wondering how the polls were wrong. A theory emerged that many people lied about their actual intentions and I knew we need to rethink the way we communicate with each other. Unfortunately, things have gotten worse since then. Broken Nose Theatre’s AT THE TABLE addresses the questions, “Who is invited to the table for what discussions, and what are we refusing to discuss at all?” It fails in offering any solutions while reinforcing the divide.
A group of friends leave the city for a weekend away with a zero electronics rule. Without the distraction of cat videos, their only entertainment option involves, um, interfacing with each other. The liquor starts to flow and no topic is off limits.
Director Spenser Davis naturalistic blocking creates the illusion that we also are invited into the inquiry; yet, I frequently felt as if I was trying to eavesdrop on the table next to me. For example, Chris (Elise Spoerlein) was staged with her back to me during an entire epic monologue introducing the idea of who gets to sit at a table for conversations and who does not. The effect of spending most of the play staring at the back of actor’s heads while listening to lines left me feeling isolated from and indifferent to these already unlikable characters.
Michael Pearlman’s script involves more talking over people than the 2016 Presidential debates. I give the cast kudos for their pacing and delivery. In fact, the eight-person ensemble provides overall proficient—though perhaps unpassioned—performances.
In his final presidential speech, President Obama said, “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life” but to do that everyone needs to be welcome at the table. Evoking change requires exiting the echo chamber.
AT THE TABLE runs through March 11th. For more information visit brokennosetheatre.com.