The Geometry Serves Up Noisy Confusion


In The Geometry, now playing at the Chocolate Factory, the performance group Object Collective has collected quite a lot of objects: houseplants, plastic sheeting, knitted microphone cozies, a defibrillator, some 80 photos of bunny rabbits. Described as a chamber opera, the piece combines found text with a dissonant score by Irish composer Jennifer Walshe. Amid these myriad props, four actors make extravagant gestures and recite monologues that are almost impossible to hear over the assorted din. (Phrases that did emerge centered on video games, pseudo-science, and repeated imprecations to “Fuck this!”) In a hollow in the stage’s center, Walshe sits with two other musicians, providing the accompaniment.

Object Collective clearly scorn theatrical convention, yet it’s difficult to see what precisely they embrace. The work seems derived from Richard Foreman in its density of environment and rejection of plot and character, but it lacks his imagistic talent and formal rigor. Here the music and text don’t seem to interrelate, nor do the words and pictures—and all the discord seems accidental rather than productive. Dimly, I recall having studied geometry at school. Weren’t all those angles supposed to add up to something?

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