Theater archives

(RUS)H: Failed Psychosexual Mystery


Depressed by the Ides of March? Or maybe you’re just feeling nothing—nothing at all? Then meet your urban soulmate, Rus (Luis Vega), who’s turning numb to a mundane world and shutting out his needy, narcissistic wife, Sireene (Chandra Thomas). A car accident suddenly steers Rus onto an even worse course: His crash victim, Sonny (Lathrop Walker)—a hustler desperate for crystal meth—eventually drags Rus into a life on the down-low, torturing poor, lonely Sireene. There is, naturally, no other recourse for an existentially disorientated male protagonist except to lash out in violence.

Intended as a “psychosexual mystery” told through multimedia, (RUS)H offers less intrigue (and less psycho-sex) than a typical Law & Order episode. Part of the problem is that James Scruggs’s narrative overstretches to 85 minutes and stalls, with single-emotion characters describing the same feeling to us again and again in confessional asides. Abstract video images large and small are supposed to supply depth—and apparently allude to the Icarus legend—but it’s hard to locate either inner life or myth in pictures of headlights and splashing water.

Perhaps to inject some 3-D sensuousness, director Kristin Marting drowns the flat-screen dialogue in relentless salsa music and keeps the trio circling in belabored tangos. But with so many familiar production elements mixing with the uninflected writing, more is less. The tale leaves us oversaturated and undernourished, a feeling Rus would understand.