Even though we go unthanked in the program, audience members ought to be credited as co-creators of Capsule 33, a new piece from Philadelphia-based writer and performer Thaddeus Phillips, with an assist from Tatiana Mallarino. In the lobby, and again upon entering the theater, a sign invites us to depress the foot pedals of petite WEZA generators. (Do it—they make an intensely satisfying whirring sound.) Our pedaling supplies electricity to the play’s LED lights and juices the sound system. The dozen of us who attended a Saturday matinee at Barrow Street Theatre perhaps didn’t pump nearly hard enough, though, since the genial one-man show seemed decidedly underpowered.
The play concerns Milo, a Serbian astrophysicist and resident of Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, an early example of sustainable architecture now slated for demolition. Milo refuses to leave his capsule, and the script follows him plodding through his final day there: waking, bathing, eating cereal, making a phone call, addressing soliloquies (some original, many Shakespearean) to his rubber duckie, Fumio. In previous works, Phillips has established himself as a winning and idiosyncratic theatermaker, with a slackerish sensibility. Here, the staging is inventive—if rather dim and murky—but too much of the language and action feels reduced, reused, and recycled.