True to the connotations of the production’s title, deceptiveness, shiny exteriors and kitsch were at the heart of Hocus, which was performed this past weekend at Risley Theatre. Wrapped around it all — or, perhaps, at its core — is a stab at the commercial, materialistic and altogether unnatural and exploitative tendencies of Americana, undertaken in an offbeat, darkly humorous style akin to Kurt Vonnegut in the ’70s. Playwright and director Will Cordeiro (current Risley Artist-in-Residence) targets advertising, technology and politicians — a move that, by today’s standards, is hardly considered revolutionary.
When a mother tells her daughter that, on the night of her birth, “it was snowing and raining at the exact same time,” it is impossible to believe that Jenny Schwartz ’95, the writer of God’s Ear, was not inspired by the weather of her dear alma mater.
A play originally performed off-off-Broadway, God’s Ear is unlike any other. It seems impossible that a piece of theater could captivate you and make you want to cover your ears at the same time. The Schwartz Center’s production of the work, however, does exactly that.
Samuel Beckett isn’t for everyone. His novels are vast, nearly un-peopled monologues, an obsessive-compulsive’s droning echo chambers, which depict the struggle to keep oneself upright and hygienic in a bleak, mundane, thoroughly contaminated solipsistic mindscape. Admittedly, I have tried to read several of Beckett’s novels, only to abandon them half-way. Each time I begin one anew, I start to feel like one of his characters: haggardly trying to go on with a dim resolve, keeping a faith that I know will fail me, waiting for something (anything!) to happen.