Saturday, September 22, 2007

Trying to Get to the Moon

In Jordan Schachter's new play Trying to Get to the Moon, an undiscovered, philosophically driven artist goes missing for a full year, prompting his heartbroken inner circle to host a fundraiser showcasing his poetry, plays and film. Certainly not by consensus and each with personal agendas, those involved with the MIA genius meet in an off off Broadway theater to ponder the reasons behind his disappearance (suicide? Ashram? an Into the Wild-like wrong way turn?) This leads to a battle of wills over the morality of presenting a shy, tortured talent's personal musings to an audience made up primarily of strangers.

At its best, Trying to Get to the Moon is an examination of creativity's importance and whether it is the art-or a person's soul-that more deeply affects those left behind. Existential questions raised in the absent artist's work are echoed by his friends, who take turns contemplating the nature of love and man's search for meaning as opposed to his quest for happiness, with the validity of artistic expression at the top of the heap. Luckily, the talented ensemble cast, well directed to mingle with the audience as well as command the stage, engagingly portray a tight knit clan whose bickering stems from a sense of deep loss and regret.

The only cast member not fully realized, of course, is the enigmatic missing artist himself, despite being intensely analyzed, glorified and mourned. When his verse play is presented by this cast of friends and lovers, illumination of the real inner workings of a tortured artist's mind is the goal. Instead, it steers us a tad too far afield from the entertaining and meaningful issues raised earlier. Despite this detour, Trying to Get to the Moon provides a night of innovative theater that examines weighty issues with both humor and insight. Playing through September 29 at the Interborough Repertory Theater.

Bonus: A free screening of Schachter's film The Legacy of Walter Frumm was shown prior to the play, a real treat. A dying man seeks revenge on all who have wronged him, but his elaborate pranks fail to maim and instead bring about joyous, enlightening revelations for his intended victims.

No comments: