Theater archives

Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road)


While Temporary Distortion’s Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road) probably leads somewhere, its audience ends up stranded on a shoulder, desperately consulting a map. This daring performance about memory and identity features six spooky-looking actors staring and speaking blankly while video footage of their experiences (from road trips to rapes) plays above their heads. Once we’ve discerned that these unnerving performers aren’t planning to whip out pistols and sprinkle bullets into the audience (craggy-faced Ben Beckley seemed a likely suspect), we find ourselves entering their lonely, disoriented world. The show’s gravity is such that the following line appears in a relatively lighthearted scene: “I am a man bewildered and incapable of remembering my many personal disasters, and therefore I am doomed to repeat them forever and ever into eternity.” This solemnity does not bore; rather, the actors take their seriousness so seriously we can’t help but do the same. A creeping amnesia haunts these characters, who complain they do not know who they are, what has happened, or what is happening now. Through its use of stage and screen, the production hints at relationships between plays and films, past and present, and reality and projection, ideas that squeeze in with the characters’ concerns—entrapment, death—like passengers in an overstuffed car. Often, as actors whisper desperately and footage glows above them, countering or complicating or confusing their words, Welcome to Nowhere captures beautifully the psychic haziness it takes on as a major theme. Yet the story line, as fractured as the characters’ emotional lives, remains just plain hazy.