A Species Called Man

Posted on February 28, 2014 by Basement

If you are fortunate enough to see Mo and Jess Kill Susie or The Slapdash Assassins over the next week and a half then all I have to say is “welcome to the jungle.” I saw both these shows on their opening nights and I have been lost in some heavy introspection ever since.

For me the theme of that introspection can be summed up into one question “What are we humans capable of…?” That question is rhetorical really, history is nothing if not a long and sobering answer to that question, and yet century after century, decade upon decade, from one war to the next, the query lives on. It bounces around the realms of pop culture, blares out at us from the news, various blogs, twitter hash tags, and currently from The Basement stages.

As I watched Mo & Jess Kill Susie and The Slapdash Assassins I was very aware of how everything playing out before me was making me feel. Both plays served an important function of theatre very well; they allowed the audience perspective on situations we are often too heavily involved in to experience with clarity. Granted both plays exist in extremes (much like Greek theatre does), but at the core of each, and with a degree of distress, I found something to connect with.

In Mo and Jess Kill Susie the connection took longer for me to recognize due to the fact that I am largely uninformed about the history and the politics of the events that the play surrounds. However, the facts of the play became unimportant as I found myself gripped by the moment that Jess confronted her own duplicity. That grip got tighter as Susie cried out against the role she found herself playing. I wanted to cry out against it too, against the social injustice driving the story from one beat to the next. I felt sick looking at how social injustice damages and undermines the heart of our humanity. I feel sick recognizing the truth that no matter how many Sky Towers and Statues of Liberty’s that we build, social injustice makes them little more then glorified hovels that we animals dwell amongst.

With The Slapdash Assassins I felt connected the moment the pre-show music began (thanks to the use of Johnny Cash’s music). However, it was the content of the play that I felt all too familiar with. It breaks my heart every time I have to admit to myself about how familiar I have become, society as a whole has become, with “the culture of terror.” I was introduced to the term thirteen years ago when those two towers fell and my home, my people, were changed forever; change that I am still processing over a decade after it all happened. Of course, The Slapdash Assassins isn’t about 9/11, but it does deal with terrorism, religious hypocrisy and the ideas surrounding justice vs. injustice (and it does this with just the right amount of laugh out loud humor). I saw my own feelings in the murderous grief of Jerome, the intent of Seamus, and in the will full innocence of Vincent. I’ve held the New Testament after Spain, and England, and The Boston Marathon and hoped that it could provide the Deus Ex Machina that might save this zoo from all it’s animals.

So…yeah…deep stuff at The Basement. Rage, revenge, ideas of justice/injustice, terror, brutality, self -righteousness…it’s all on stage, and as theatre has often proven to be, it is timely. I hope you all get a chance to confront the jungle.