I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir…because I’m not myself, you see. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
A simple tale of a young man uprooted from his totally mundane existence and sent on a search for two runaways. Well, not so simple. It’s a search filled with, as the title tells us, Heroes and Strangers…and other things, among them an attacking cat, a verbose activist and a man with a gun.
It’s a cautionary tale filled with a roller coaster of emotions juxtaposed so our attention dares not wander for an instant lest something be missed which we really want and need to know. The story, though intentionally fragmented, gains momentum as it moves forward in an oddly coherent line. The symbolism, as in switching from black and white film to color, rarely intrudes in the process. The writing and acting (both by Zac Jaffee) combine to give us permission to create our own interpretation of the events.
We are drawn into a series of unusual situations running the gamut from pathos to humor to the mundane with but a few grounding points…including a reiterated view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Places and people with odd names are revisited and are not the same places and people encountered shortly before. There’s a dream (nightmare) versus reality factor. A fine line between fantasy as reality and reality as fantasy.
It’s all related by a very compelling and talented story teller with an uncanny ability to bring to life the wide variety of characters and events while yet remaining himself within the story.
The lighting (Lee Terry) and sound (Yvette Jackson), though relatively simple, serve the piece well. The recurring sounds of the ringing phone, abrasive and disruptive, impose themselves as intended. It is impossible not to relate to “I tried to turn it off with my brain.” The original music (Luke Westbrook) works well despite occasional technical glitches. Stage managed by Scott Andrews, it all comes together as a well thought out and effective production.
I’m not going to tell you how it all ends, but I strongly recommend you make a point of visiting The Cell (a somewhat utilitarian, but charming space) this coming November 17-19 to find out. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and often gently thought provoking evening.
Heroes and Other Strangers
Presented by The Cell
Written and performed by Zac Jaffee
Directed by Christian Haines
338 West 23rd Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues )
Thursday, November 17, Friday, November 18 and Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 8 p.m.