Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘In To The Outside/D.C. al Coda’ #1

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This review must start off as my show experience started off…with an apology… The writer/director John Sowalsky walked onto the stage tonight and announced that yesterday one of the two actresses shattered her kneecap, and with few options at their disposal, the team decided that John would walk the part physically while Elizabeth Heir would read the part from her newly bound wheelchair in the corner. Halfway through this announcement, The Shop lost power, and the audience spent fifteen minutes in the dark. Someone from the audience aptly proclaimed, “When it rains, it pours.” Sadly, the rest of the evening was not smooth sailing for the Indian Ocean Theatre Company.
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In To The Outside/D.C. al Coda is two plays. In To The Outside has been performed before, and runs about 40 minutes. D.C al Coda takes the characters Two and B further into their journey, picking up without a break from the events of the first play. Sowalsky relates his work to Beckett’s, and in the sense that it takes a very long time for nothing to happen, this is true. Unfortunately, Sowalsky’s work does not have the punch or drive of Beckett and is handled by a performer and, admittedly, a voice of a performer, who do not seem to have the adequate tools required to elevate the text to an engaging level. What I mean is there were consistently unclear vocal and physical choices, including tons of vague and repetitive pantomime which gets repeated a half dozen times.

With banter like “Knock knock/ Who’s there?/ Pavlov./ Pavlov who?” and “We have to get away from here./ Here is hard to get away from. By definition,” In To The Outside spends over 30 of its 40 minutes with “Two” verbally sparring to try and get the insufferably literal “B”, played by Cassandra Redding, to open her eyes. The two characters are in a room separated by a giant wall with a three-foot gap at the top for them to attempt to climb through. D.C. al Coda begins with the breaking of this imaginary wall and the characters then proceeding to analyze and challenge the logic of the script of the first piece. They also discuss why one sneezes.
The set features one edge of the wall separating Two and B. Designed and constructed by Jon and Molly Shapiro, the set represents a microcosm of the whole room. Unfortunately whenever it is knocked or leaned against, the wall does not look like it will support much stress. The sound design (also by Sowalsky) features synth recordings reminiscent of a 70s science fiction film, and is mostly overpowered by the sounds of the Fringe Tent outside.

To summarize, I believe the words of the show describe itself fairly accurately: “I think this script is screwy…I keep wondering if there’s any meaning to it at all.” Though if you have a penchant for Beckett and enjoy logic puns, then at least the text of this show will appeal to you. As Two says late in the play, “Pause. Pause. Awkward Pause. Pause. This script has more paws than an animal shelter.”

Running Time: 65 minutes. with no intermission.
InToTheOutSideDCAlCoda-728x90In To The Outside/D.C. al Coda plays through July 26 at The Shop at Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave NW Washington, DC 20001. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.
Editor’s Note: Because of the injury and loss of power on opening night, I decided to go back and see the show again. It didn’t fair any better the second time around, and for the record, I agree with both reviews by Tyler Herman and Cyle Durkee. Here is Cyle’s review.

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