January 14, 2010

"The soapbox is fully present, in the form of a couple of nondescript wooden blocks, but the speakers are more like specters in “Ads,” a boundary-pushing curio from the theatrical auteur Richard Maxwell at Performance Space 122, a co-presentation of the Coil festival and the Under the Radar smorgasbord of forward-looking theater."


March 25, 2010

Oh, that tricky Richard Maxwell. Just when you think you have him figured out (he’s the elliptical-prose-coupled-with-deliberate-awkwardness guy!), he finds a way to leach even more supposedly vital blood from live performance. Works like Ode to the Man Who Kneels and People Without History have already shown us how his work can thrive without overt emotion, concrete narrative and actorly competence (he likes to mix nonactors with skilled deadpanners), but now Maxwell deprives us of even the actors themselves. In the thought-provoking, often frustrating installation Ads, a lonely pane of glass shimmers with ghostly 3-D projections, each of a speaker standing on a box, intoning his or her own monologue about belief. Some have been written and rehearsed (in the most striking, a saxophonist tells us that the universe resonates at B-flat and that he hopes his Zen practice will lead him to the same note); while others seem to be looser, even perfunctory responses to Maxwell’s query about what values they hold to heart.