Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Large Animal Names

I went to see Impact Theatre’s production of the Stephen Yockey play Large Animal Games last week. I will most certainly see it again mostly because it is a show best enjoyed with a large mirthful audience. I happened to be there on a Thursday with a small subdued crowd. Subdued, that is, except for the strange gentlemen sitting a few seats over from me. I don’t know that you can actually call what he was doing “sitting”, as he was more fidgeting all over the place in a way that made me question if his butt ever actually made contact with the seat. He took notes throughout the performance with a loud pencil. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of a pencil as an object that could assume the quality of “loud” but somehow in all his gravity-defying gyrating, this young man managed to make his pencil loud. Then his cell phone rang. And he answered it.

I’ve never seen a crowd descend upon someone more quickly. It was like a pack of lions singling out the lame gazelle. Fortunately he hung up right away before anyone was able to rip at his soft underbelly.

All that said it was a lovely and enjoyable play that I look forward to seeing again. My only note, upon my initial viewing, (other than “shut the hell up and sit still you crazy man!”) is that the title is all wrong. Certainly, I can see why it has that title. It applies to the narrative, and it’s a good title. But it somehow misses the mark. The play has an absurdist element. Or maybe it's not "absurdist" exactly, but it's at least an element of magical realism. I enjoyed that element, and it serves as a through-line. That element, to me, is really the heart of the play, and the title ignores that element.

Something like “Leopards and Lingerie” or something like that would work better for me. Anything to tie it into the absurdism/magical realism. As it is, I’m left wondering, why was that even there if it didn’t warrant an allusion from the title? Good, catchy title or not, that play wants to be called something else.

Elissa Dunn, Roy Landaverde, and Cindy Im in the co-world premiere of Steve Yockey's Large Animal Games at Impact Theatre

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.