Friday, January 15, 2016

Out There: Daniel Fish

After all this time, David Foster Wallace can still make you feel stupid. 

I don't think he means to do it, but he does.

This is plainly evident in the essays featured in Daniel Fish's A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again After David Foster Wallace, of which the lengthy name mirrors the equally lengthy essays. The entire show is composed on the concept that the only thing that makes a play more performance worthy than an essay is the name; the content in either can be just as riveting depending on the subject matter. So, four performers recite Wallace essays in various groupings to varying degrees of effectiveness.

The show is moderately successful, and I think that has to do entirely with burnout. Wallace's writing is extraordinarily lyrical, and is expertly delivered by the performers. Unfortunately, it just gets to be a little too long (or frankly, a little too deep) for concentration purposes, which makes you feel impatient and unintellectual, but you can't help it (see what I mean about the stupid? I bet David Foster Wallace wouldn't get bored with his own essays. And so it begins...).

The set is a striking arrangement of tennis balls, which cast an eerie glow depending on the lighting. It's a simple but fluid way to handle setting for such an abstract work, and it does the trick admirably. There are no costumes or props to speak of, save the single pair of headphones each performer wears as they recite their passages. The headphones are never really explained, but they're fun, so I guess it works.

This performance is the second of the annual Out There series at the Walker Art Center, which is always worth a visit. Each show goes for a limited run - this will last for just this weekend. Check out more information by clicking on this link.