by Suzanne Karpinski · June 12, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #113 Suzanne Karpinski looks at Three Hours playing at HERE Arts Center This month, the Brooklyn-based Exquisite Corpse Company presents four short plays inspired by the unusual prompt of following the designs presented at an avant-garde fashion show also hosted by the company. Three Hours, a compact piece exploring American culture’s strange relationship to sex and violence is one of these plays.
Buddies Allen and Joey frequently hang out on the couch to smoke and watch the news, but on this particular day, they are taken by the announcement of a girl who has gone missing and may only have a few hours to live. As they speculate on her fate, we are introduced to a variety of men and women in a series of vignettes who all share a common thematic thread with this disappearance. Director Sharone Halevy keeps the threads of the story smoothly winding from one to the next; they are by turns charming and funny, dark and confessional, and a few begin to hint at some serious pain just below the surface.
Actress Caroline Gart is particularly strong as she shyly confesses to the audience how she discovered and owned her sexuality through BDSM practices. She understands how to play to an intimate house and keep us engaged as though she were a close friend. Jack Fellows and Crystal Lee also deftly juggle several additional roles. Equally skilled is Jarvis Dewayne Griggs, working with poetically heightened text throughout and grounding it in real intentions, revealing playwright Laura Zlatos’ dark imagery in her text. The overall effect of her writing is a collage of intersecting points of view on her subject rather than a narrative, which combined with the 60 minute run time, gives the audience just enough to consider and to make connections between the contrasting scenarios, revealing how much violence is still permissible both in prevailing attitudes towards sex and gender but also in our glorification of tragic events.
The minimalism of Caitlyn Murphy’s set design, combined with the simple, clean lines of Siena Zoe Allen’s costumes and Ien DeNio’s unobtrusive soundscape serve to highlight the performances and the text, as it should be. Audiences will find someone to connect to on the stage, making Three Hours a worthwhile foray. The festival, entitled “WareArt: SubTerra”, continues through June 15th.