Rarely has a play seemed so exasperating before it has even begun. At an evening performance of Ashlin Halfnight’s Artifacts of Consequence, curtain time saw the audience crammed into the Wild Project’s petite lobby. Then ushers marched spectators out into a downpour and through a back entrance into the theater. Scorching lights and blaring music accompanied the damp scurry toward the seats. So it’s some testament to Halfnight’s script, though overladen, that the show actually proved enjoyable.
Artifacts of Consequence takes place at the end of the current century, when a rising water table has destroyed all known civilization. In a bunker—or, perhaps, a submarine—a band of survivors repair leaks, munch food-replacement pills, and catalog cultural ephemera. An update of the Theseus myth, the play is also an existentialist horror story and a meditation on canonicity: Twinkies are approved for preservation; The Crucible is denied. Despite Kristjan Thor’s penchant for overdirection, a distinct underwater world is created. Eventually, even the most recalcitrant audience member (likely me) had to admit that there were worse ways to spend a wet evening. Alexis Soloski
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2009