Beauty and Confusion

Nine months remain for Alora and Linus before life changes drastically for the both of them. “A lot can happen in nine months” is a constant refrain throughout Andrew Irons’ Linus and Alora . At the end of that time frame, life can either begin anew or end. Given a terminal diagnosis of cancer, Alora calls upon her three imaginary brothers, Neal, Owen, and Arthur in order to cope as the rest of her time speeds by her. However, Linus, who lost his imagination as a small boy, had asked her to banish her brothers eight years ago. Yet now it seems he may need them more than Alora. Alora’s goal in bringing back the three brothers is to re-open Linus’ imagination, so that the pair can enjoy the next nine months more fully. Claiming to be pregnant, Alora refuses to go out into the real world, fearing that death is just a step away. She chooses instead to fly among the stars and converse with her imaginary son, Sam. The play takes the audience on a journey which is at times thrilling, beautiful, and confusing.

Alora sings a lot, as way to trace time and tell her story. Melle Powers, the actress playing her, does not have (or does not use) a soothing, melodious voice. Her songs are coarse and grating, the songs of a woman clinging desperately to something that is slipping away. Other elements of the production produce similar effects—a phone constantly rings loudly while a flashing red siren light goes off. Video projections, including a countdown timer, flash by on three surfaces and everyday sounds (the popping of fluorescent lights, a heartbeat) are incredibly amplified. At times the play feels reminiscent of Charles Mee, who is known for his use of pastiche in constructing his plays and for the surreal, magical worlds he creates. However, the amount of sights and sounds occurring onstage can be a bit much at times, particularly in the opening scenes. The amount of singing, dancing, and video work happening onstage makes it confusing to know where to look and what to pay attention to.

There is also beauty amid all the mayhem. The set, designed by Dustin O’Neill, features a hardwood ramp and a concrete-looking playing area with a square of AstroTurf in its center. A bright red telephone and a classy coat stand take prominent positions stage right and left respectively. The projection surfaces are dressed to look like three large windows, each with a single color background when they are not showing video. The brothers' costumes are snazzy and bright, especially when they don sequined jackets pretending to be the Pips.

In all, Linus and Alora is a beautiful story about love between two people and the way imagination can liberate one from the often sad facts of life. While it may get too busy at times, the direction and the script both show a desire to make theater exciting and fantastic, something which is often lacking onstage and yet certainly deserves to be there.

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