Sunday 30 August: murder, hope, Infinity Live Productions at TOTS (stage 2) (IFF)
This was a very frenetic experience that was saved by its talkback after the show. It deals with a boy suffering from Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, and with branches of neuroscience that study how the brain rewires itself when necessary. Becky Poole, writer and performer, comes to the subject matter directly - it is her nephew whom we hear on tapes played during the performance. L-K sufferers lose the ability to articulate language, without losing the ability to understand what is being said to them. Through various exercises, therapists attempt to re-start the mental processes that lead to language. Some victims are able to recover (and perhaps relapse).
Poole mixes ballads that have their verses changed (emulating a brain that is misfiring), quotes from researchers on butcher paper, variable costumes that switch from one face to another with the flip of a hand (the faces belonging to a neuroscientist and a biophysicist), an unconnected case of a girl whose inner ear delivered faulty signals to the brain, resulting in an inability to maintain balance (and an electromechanical device that delivered new signals to her brain, which learned to accommodate them), and other techniques to keep the audience at sea as her story progressed. But the cumulative effect was so successful that it was only at the talkback that audience members sorted out just what each element of the presentation was intended to convey - then they made eminent sense. What had been a B or B- effort was pulled up to an A-, with Louise, whose patient population could include such children, saying that it was a very useful experience for her.
Checkmark to Poole for conception, and honorable mention for performance. Carrie Morris directed.