Review: ‘Nothing to See Here’ at Found Theater Company in Philadelphia

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Well, actually, there’s a lot to see in Found Theater Company’s latest ensemble-devised work Nothing to See Here, and there’s even more to hear, to think about, and to feel. But above all else, the highly inventive conceptual mood piece is something to experience firsthand.

1.Emily R. Johnson (on table) and ensemble. Photo by Harish Pathak.
Emily R. Johnson (on table) and ensemble. Photo by Harish Pathak.

As Co-Founder and Assistant Director Phoebe Schaub leads participants through the cluttered, aging, usually unseen space of Found’s original site-specific performance (with scenic design by Tom Lombardi), you will encounter provocative suggestions of the stifling, mindboggling absurdity of bureaucratic control, with its inexplicable rules, delays, interrogations, and pronouncements. You will begin to wonder what, if anything, you can do about it; but if you speak up, you’ll be photographed, and if you stand up, you’ll be told to sit down. You’ll silently ponder if there’s any true justice in the justice system, any chance of concessions to the indebted, or any possibility of forgiveness for you and your fellow citizens, as Found’s experimental work bombards your senses and elicits immediate visceral responses and profound cerebral reflections.

There is expressive movement, evocative lighting and disturbing darkness by Will Jonez, and the haunting sound and music of Found’s indelible signature style, with musical direction by Kevin O’Halloran, with percussion, guitar, and vocals that will transport you to an alternate reality—a kaleidoscopic hallucinatory state in which you’ll come to recognize the inherent truths of our socio-political system. There are exquisite dreamlike fragments of conformity, unity, organization, and harmony that contrast with nightmarish sequences of rebellion, discord, chaos, and cacophony, as the performers/creators/Co-Directors Adrienne Hertler, Steph Iozzia, Joe Palinsky, Joe Wozniak, Emily R. Johnson, Tom Lombardi, and lead artist Sean Lally skillfully fashion an intriguing, perplexing, illusory world where they passionately query in song, “What the f*%# is happening? What the f*%# is going on?”

Joe Wozniak and Adrienne Hertler. Photo by Harish Pathak.
Joe Wozniak and Adrienne Hertler. Photo by Harish Pathak.

You might get subliminal references to the old-time characters and clowns of Vaudeville in the costumes (designed by the ensemble under the guidance of Johnson), to the dissonance of our people, as members of the cast all talk at once so that no one individual can be fully heard or understood, and to the underlying big question, “How can we make the world a better place?” You will not be given the answer, but you will be challenged, inspired, uniquely entertained, and affected, as you partake in the unmatched artistry that is Found. Go see Nothing to See Here for yourself; it’s really something.

Running Time: 65 minutes, with no intermission.

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Nothing to See Here plays through Sunday, May 1, 2016, at Found Theater Company, performing in the Boy Scout Room at JUNK – 2040 Christian Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, purchase them online.

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