by Ed Malin · November 17, 2014
Sean Williams, Kate Middleton,Seth Shelden | Deborah Alexander
Asymmetric by Mac Rogers, produced by Ground UP Productions in association with Gideon Productions, is now playing at 59e59. This show, directed by Jordana Williams, was originally developed in episodic form through the Vampire Cowboys Saturday Night Saloon. I am familiar with the work of Mac Rogers, and at this point if you are not I am sure you will rectify that situation soon. More engrossing than the best sci-fi interrogation novel ever written (The Demolished Man), Asymmetric shows what happens when you love someone out of all proportion, and also have lots of weapons.
Josh (Sean Williams) looks like a mess, but that’s what happens when our government’s secret services pull you in for questioning. It turns out that Josh used to be a code-breaking agent, was dismissed due to dipsomania of the undiagnosed depressive-kind, but is now speaking with his former boss, Zach (Seth Shelden) about a real menace to society. This rogue, a.k.a. the mole on the 5th floor, is Josh’s ex-wife and government assassin, Sunny (Kate Middleton), and Josh seems to be the only one with a hope of saving the day. A few rooms down, Sunny is being interrogated for her astoundingly out-of-character treasonous plot. (Since you must see this play, you will not hear from me any classified details.) Sunny is tied up and is resisting the amoral and effective attempts of Agent Ford (Rob Maitner), who has a box of tongue-loosening tools and acts fascinatingly like a tool himself. Quite soon the illegally leaked technology will bring itself to the attention of the bigwigs, so everyone in this story has a lot to lose. What’s so great about this play is how it’s a smoothie of international intrigue and American self-loathing plus emotional high stakes. Every minute, something completely unexpected and more life-threatening happens. Don’t ask me how this 90 minute thriller was previously staged in smaller dramatic morsels; that sounds maddening. Suffice it to say, your mission—should you choose to accept it—will be to think about whether our country or any country deserves to be great at the expense of [everything else in the world]. Also, in how many ways in the future will DNA bring us together? [And ain’t I a human?]
The dialogue is as fast as the action, so congratulations to the cast, who, as secret agents, have several levels of facial disguise to drop. Jordana Williams’s able direction plays out within the colorful prison designed and lit by Travis McHale. The lighting design is really far out, as is the way a NYC apartment-sized stage becomes several global locales.