by Lillian Meredith · January 17, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #37: Lillian Meredith looks at Take Me Home Take Me Home, the new immersive piece by Alexandra Collier set in and around the back seat of a cab, is the theatrical kin to John Cage’s 4’33”; it’s less of a play and more of an experience, and it ever so slightly shifts the audience’s perception of the city we all take for granted every day. As the cab winds its way through the financial district, stopping at corners for longer monologues from and improv interactions with the cab driver (played with easy honesty by Modesto Jimenez), there is an acute and comforting familiarity. Cars honk, pedestrians wander by, the cabbie plays his music too loud and talks on his phone. It could be any ride home late at night.
Except this time, the little TLC TV instructs the audience to “Look Out.” Because, out on the street, there are couples waltzing in a lighted square, perfectly in time with the music playing on the radio. A girl in a red coat passes by once, then again, then again. Women dance in the ground floor windows of a building by the river. As the audience cranes to see what might be coming next, searching out the windows for more, the whole city suddenly hums with renewed significance. And while some moments are obviously staged as part of the performance, so many little uncontrolled and unplanned moments also take on a magical quality, becoming effortlessly and unconsciously part of the play as well. The alleyways and canyoned streets of the financial district are more than a backdrop; they are haunted with the ghosts of every New Yorker’s story.
What is more incredible is how multifaceted the piece is. There is text and music, dance and video; it’s a multimedia performance art piece; it’s an interactive improvisation play; it is a every cab ride you’ve ever taken, and like none you could imagine. Director Meghan Finn uses the very conventions that we as New Yorkers take for granted, the very streets of our incredible city itself, and highlights them, bewitches and encompasses them, and turns them into something worth considering again. It seems to ask us to remember how lucky we are, how beautiful and tragic this place can be. And it is. The text itself is melancholy, and what it lacks in narrative arc, it more than makes up for in ambiance. But it is the headlights and streetlights that serve as the spotlights, reminding us that everything around us is worthy of our rapt attention.