Review: "A Day" Will Stick with You Much Longer
Written by Gabrielle Chapdelaine
Translated by Josephine George
Directed by Sameul Buggeln and Wendy Dann
Presented by The Cherry Artists' Collective via YouTube Live
November 13-21, 2020
|Sylvie Yntema, Karl Gregory, Jahmar Ortiz, Erica Steinhagen. Courtesy Emily Owens PR|
While the concerns of A Day are solidly the stuff of realism—yearning for the past, the breakdown of a relationship, the desire to be recognized for one's work, depression, anxiety, the myriad ways that we distract and comfort ourselves to make the hours pass—the play's approach is decidedly and enjoyably non-realist. A Day is one of those postmodern plays that is easy to absorb in the moment and somewhat trickier to describe at a remove. We are introduced to the characters by peeking in on what each is doing at 12am: Alfonso (Jahmar Ortiz) is watching a laptop in bed, as is Debs (Erica Steinhagen); Harris (Karl Gregory) is out dancing; and Nico (Sylvie Yntema) is responsibly asleep. It isn't too long, though, before a device is introduced in which three of the characters provide a narration for the fourth that seems equivalent to an inner monologue delivered in second-person address. While narrating in this way, the three characters who are speaking seem to be partly but not entirely the same as their "real" selves. However it is best elucidated, this ontological fluidity works beautifully in practice.
That the audience gets quickly used to these narrative mechanics and the hour-by-hour structure lays the groundwork for the play later to surprisingly and impactfully depart from them, upending the routines that the spectators themselves have assumed. One such departure is humorous and comes with an unexpected musical interlude, while the other major instances mark the low and high points for one of the protagonists, testifying to the power both of sadness and of resilience. Ortiz, Steinhagen, Gregory, and Yntema do excellent, heartfelt work in creating sympathetic but complex characters while adroitly navigating the play's shifting subject positions; and on the video side, Darcy Rose stands out whether enduring Alfonso's classic movie obsessions or a poor decision on Nico's part.
|Erica Steinhagen, Jahmar Ortiz, Karl Gregory, Sylvie Yntema. Courtesy Emily Owens PR|
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards