(L to R): Paul Thureen (Jeep), Hannah Bos (Bev), Michael Cyril Creighton (Morty), Hanlon Smith-Dorsey (Sam) and Birgit Huppuch (Gail). Photograph T Charles Erickson.
Theater review by Larry Murray
The Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) continues its tradition of presenting and supporting up and coming theatre companies that most people have never heard of. The Debate Society (TDS) is one of them, and it opened Blood Play at the Nikos Theatre last week. This work occupies the final slot in WTF’s 2013 season of seven plays.
Blood Play places us in a claustrophobic pine-paneled basement room with five refugees from the fifties. In the dystopian culture which those years spawned we meet some people on the cusp of success who spend their time drinking, socializing and playing silly party games. It is all innocuous enough on the surface, but the sheer mediocrity of it left me thinking about how much I dreaded not being able to escape that sort of life half a century ago. That’s when I fled suburban Freeport, Long Island in search of something more meaningful, more real than the regimentation of getting married, having 2.5 kids, 1/4 acre, and a station wagon in the garage. The oppressive scourge that era brought us includes Senator Joe McCarthy and the red scare, Levittown, keeping up with the Joneses, the John Birch Society, TV dinners. It ultimately paved the way for the vacuity of discount big-box stores, overcrowded highways and mindless television, not to mention the military-industrial complex and war as big business.
Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The past is prologue,” and I might posit that this dystopia still exists, even as the nature and variety of amusements has changed. Now we have all manner of “smart” electronic toys that make us feel unique and powerful even as they keep us from actually communicating with each other as the drinking games in Blood Play do. Times have not changed all that much, just the things we amuse ourselves with. On another level there are hints of family dysfunction, sexual curiosity and neglected, possibly abused children. These are some of the things that Blood Play – whether purposely or by accident – brings to the surface. They are all hinted at. We, the audience have to fill in the blanks.
Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.