Review: You'll Like What You Find "Through the Door"

 Through the Door

Story by Kasper Klop and Morwenna Spagnol

Directed by Morwenna Spagnol

Presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and New York Theatre Salon via Zoom

June 2, 8, and 9, 2021

Image from
In some dramatic works in this moment, an empty theater might signify loss or absence, but for Through the Door, a new recorded piece that mixes approaches from video and theater, that space acts as an opportunity for and a means of exploration in multiple registers. Presented free as part of the second annual Global Forms Theater Festival, a nine-day event which is dedicated to international artists living in the U.S. and features the theme "Seven Continents Unite," the ten-minute Through the Door was filmed in the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, which is transformed into an expansive landscape across which the production's equally expansive considerations unfold. Performed by French-Dutch interdisciplinary artist and actor Kasper Klop, Through the Door compellingly anchors its big questions in its intimate scale.

Such large-scale issues arise immediately, with a voice-over that comes to focus on the possibility of existential freedom. Elsewhere, the dialogue—often dual-voiced, with one an interlocutor—broaches breakdowns and tipping points, the compatibility of artistic success with other areas of life, and the interplay among desire, illusion, and reality (so far as these are actually separate or separable). While there are some head or upper body shots of Klop, including intercut into a scene staged symbolically against a mirror, our primary protagonist is a hand puppet—literally, a hand that walks on two fingers. This choice allows Through the Door to play with and on perspective, as the hand, for instance, scales what appears as a mountainous set of stairs criss-crossed with colored tape that might equally mark paths or boundaries; or as it trails a train a yellow fabric up yet another set of stairs to magisterial music prior to a final section with more than a hint of transcendence. Insofar as the physical journey here is also a journey into the self, the hand-as-character fruitfully reflects and extends this metaphor: it is framed as a separate thing but also constitutes an extension of the self (as well as an interface between the self and the world), dwarfed by its surroundings but also itself part of something larger.

The June 2nd screening was followed by a talkback, enthusiastically hosted by Jody Doo, with Klop and co-creator and director Morwenna Spagnol. The artists discussed their collaborative relationship and site-specific work, inspirations for the show, the process of working remotely from two different countries, the intimacy of working with the hand puppet, and more—an illuminating conversation that by no means exhausted the potentialities of the work. Visually and conceptually rich, Through the Door offers an aesthetically rewarding experience at once cerebral and sensual.

John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards


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