The Curious Red Fly/Blue Bottle Takes Wing at Here

The housefly is a fairly innocuous creature. Really, how much can a Musca domestica achieve in a 20-day life cycle? But when not crawling over picnic fare or avoiding swatters, a fly occasionally deigns to inspire German philosophers and Off-Broadway playwrights. Red Fly/Blue Bottle—a music-theater piece composed by Christina Campanella, with book and lyrics by Stephanie Fleischmann—takes its minimal narrative cue from a Ludwig Wittgenstein quotation. Wittgenstein wrote that his philosophy aimed "to shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle."

In the play, the metaphorical fly is a young woman named Clarissa (Jesse Hawley). Her lover (Chris Lee) has left her to fight in a secret war, and she's paralyzed by her confusion and loss. Meanwhile, she's observed by an older woman (Black-Eyed Susan) who repairs radios and plays language games. The play's songs charm, though the lyrics seem written in the style of a mildly creepy primer: "This is a train song/It is a train song/It's a song/Of a train gone."

Black-Eyed Susan and Chris Lee in "Red Fly/Blue Bottle"
Ryan Jensen
Black-Eyed Susan and Chris Lee in "Red Fly/Blue Bottle"


Red Fly/Blue Bottle
By Christina Campanella and Stephanie Fleischmann
Here Arts Center
145 Sixth Avenue, 212-352-3101

The nursery rhyme and lack of plot ought to make the piece maddening, but instead, it's sweetly strange. From elliptical imagery and approximate rhyme, director Mallory Catlett has conjured a complete, unique universe—with ample assistance from Miranda K. Hardy's lights, Jim Findlay's set, and Jeremy Wilson's live soundscape. Red Fly just might generate some buzz.