Review: ‘The Unseen’ at the Road Theatre
ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (Vol. 13-No. 25-Week of June 22nd, 2009)
Craig Wright’s THE UNSEEN, a bizarre tale of two prisoners locked up within their cells, and the inner conflicts they face, opens at The Road Theater Company in North Hollywood.
Set within the bowels of a very considerable and dense institution located in some linear universe, two prisoners named Valdez (Matt Kirkwood), and Wallace (Darin Singleton) and confined to their cells serving time for an unspecified offense. They cannot see each other, but can communicate by speaking from outside of their cells to where the sound of their voices carry. They have gone through a series of tortures that range from physical beatings to psychological anguish exposed by the harsh sounds of buzzers ringing out for no apparent reason. Their only human contact is their guard named Smash (Douglas Dickerman), who feeds them and empties their honey pots. Valsez and Wallace speak to one another about what is awaiting for them in the outside world while slowing breaking down their mental and tangible psyche. They ask questions about their incarceration that have no answers, while answering to their reasons of existing. All is set place within a world that is true only in their minds.
This one act play shows the ironic passion and the agony of being confined beyond one’s own reasoning or choice. Matt Kirkwood and Darin Singleton as the captives are very intense within their roles. Their characters hold their spirits high while fighting down to their finish either through physical escape or by the illusion to becoming within permanent liberty. Douglas Dickerman as the latchkey is cynically sadistic as the only soul knowing what sort of punishment would fit the prisoners’ crimes. Playwright Craig Wright directs his own piece into a stage work that holds hints of a moment that is not in the present era or set within a future that may never arrive. Although its context is some sort of large institution, Desma Murphy’s set design shows an inner frame of a prison cell (one each per “guest”) that is much more compact as they may look. The setting is dim, shedding any light only when the sentry appears.
THE UNSEEN is a rather dark and enigmatic study of the results of commuting an unknown act and its consequences within a world that is not of one’s own. The title of this play indicates there is nothing to see, but to be emotionally felt and pondered upon. It may not be at first to exist in one’s world, but to be found or “seen” in another! Perhaps one should take that notion as a threat or as a fancy.