Theater archives

Gin & “It” Is Gorgeous But Safe


If director Reid Farrington’s multimedia Gin & “It” resembles the Wooster Group’s meta-Hamlet somewhat, he has an excuse—he’s created video for much recent Wooster fare. Instead of Shakespeare, his piece samples Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope, famed for a technical concept—the director shot each roll in one elaborate take.

To imitate Hitch’s crew, Farrington employs a group of white guys in black jumpsuits who manipulate lots of wooden boxes and scrims, upon which multiple collaged video sequences from the film appear and disappear. This approach, heavy on technical wizardry, creates a surplus of gorgeous, improbable stage pictures, though without shedding light on its source material. Occasionally, the stage business transcends its concept and delightfully blurs between blocking and dance. More often, the performers’ banter and droll efforts to stand in for the movie stars feel like a bland episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, starving the audience of theatricality.

It doesn’t help to have seen Radiohole’s Whatever, Heaven Allows in the same space recently. That group (also including Wooster tech vets) turned Douglas Sirk’s movies bacchanalian, slathering on spectacle and psychotic chutzpah—the kind of challenging trouble Farrington has avoided.