If nothing else, the Bridge Production Group deserves a shout-out for tackling difficult material. Just 10 minutes into a mere 70 minutes’ running time, See You, by Canadian writer Guillaume Corbeil, is more than likely to provoke thoughts of how swiftly mortal lives are over, and whether your own demise will occur before the play ends. In short, See You is a stultifying, irritating work—playwriting by lists.
Each of the five actors begins by greeting the audience, then describing themselves (or their characters, since they are not named). One starts: “Sex: Female. Eyes: Brown. Hair: Dirty Blonde. 5 foot 6. Born August 2nd. I am single.” Soon however, they kick into high gear, as Corbeil drops names and throws out cultural references in lieu of characterization. For instance, from one character (Crawford M. Collins):
Motto: Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?
Cheeseburgers at 4 am
Style: a style all my own
Vintage leather jacket
Club: Blue Diamond
Drink: A shot of Jack
Restaurant: Punjabi Palace
Music: Indie rock
And so on. Each continues interminably reciting places and things, until there’s a shift to each showing selfies of a party they all went to, but where they split up, and where each ended up.
We went to a party his friends were throwing
Under the viaduct
it was the team from EatMe productions who organized it
They had just finished filming the new video for Elephantic Psychopaths
The entire music scene was there
I have never been to a more intense party
Those people do not mess around when it comes to a party
When they party
Eventually, it seems, that some didn’t go to the party, or that the party was representative of a lot of parties. Time moves forward.
Two: That’s why I didn’t go out with you the other night.
Three: You mean three years ago?
Two: Is it already three years later?
One: It’s today.
Three: It’s been three years since we went out.
Suffice it to say, however, that watching actors looking at cellphones and reciting the labels of photographs ranks high among soul-deadening theatrical experiences, and time in this production seems, like Hurricane Dorian, to linger disastrously.
It’s to the actors’ credit that without any character names they have differentiated the numbers they’re playing. Director Max Hunter has wisely cast performers with distinctive looks who also manage to give particular qualities to their nebulous characters. Hamish Allan-Headley is the athletic-looking male in a hoodie; Charlie Reid is slender and intellectual. Christina Toth is blonde, a bit giggly, and easygoing; Adriane Moreno is stylish and runs with influencers; Collins starts as reserved and sullen but becomes more intense.
Nicolle Allen’s costumes assist by assigning each a color to help keep them straight, although if your only marker for a character is saffron or burgundy, and what they spout holds no interest, their clothes aren’t going to matter. The dialogue, mostly lists, and sometimes just participial phrases, couldn’t sparkle if Laurence Olivier or Eva Le Gallienne were reciting it (and they’d have been wise enough not to become involved, though these young actors are to be commended for trying):
Me looking out the window
Me taking my laundry out from the wash
Me hanging it out to dry
Me waiting for it to dry while eating a can of pineapple
Me folding my shirts
Me folding my underwear
Me putting together my pairs of socks
A sock who’s [sic] match I can’t find
The mundane descriptions eventually give way to more critical moments in the characters’ lives, as they endure medical crises and worse. One of them (Allan-Headley) goes to prison, another (Toth) becomes a call girl, and another (Reid) descends into drug-fueled decadence; those experiences apparently come with (unseen) photos too:
Five: Me in my prison cell
Everyone calls him Killer Mike
Killer Mike forcing me to give him head
Three: Brian Tippet doing me in the ass
Five: Killer Mike doing me in the ass
Two: A client who pays extra to do me up the ass
Cheyenne Sykes has contributed some projections, and near the end parts of Seth Byrum’s scenery are overturned, as some physical action creeps in. The ending finally comes alive both visually and aurally, but getting there isn’t really worth the slog.
The Bridge Production Group’s See You runs through Sept. 21 at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St.). Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and on Sunday, Sept. 8; matinees at 3 p.m. are on Sept. 7 and 15. For tickets and information, call (866) 811-4111 or visit newohiotheatre.org.