September 23, 2014
Last Friday night we caught the very first public performance of Jona Tarlin's play In Antarctica, Where it is Very Warm. It's presented by Blowout Theatre Company at IRT on Christopher Street (Greenwich Village, Manhattan; info here). Kyle Metzger directs a cast of five: E.J. An, Lindsey Ausen, Veronique Hurley, Christopher Norwood, and Anthony Perullo.
Antarctica takes place at a scientific station somewhere near the South Pole. I know such things exist but I've never thought much about what it would be like to work and live at one: Jona has thought about that, carefully, and the aspect I love most about this play is that it considers the topic with such acuity and depth.
The principal character is a young man named Neil who has just been hired to be the staff plumber at this Antarctic facility.Neil's previous job was as a contractor in Iraq; perhaps he has PTSD? But the fascinating first act of Jona's play is not about Neil's past but rather his present, as he gets used to a place where winter and night coincide for a sun-less seven or eight months. We meet two of the other support staffers--Annabelle and Tom--as well as two of the scientists, Helen and Vicki. Vicki, it turns out, is pregnant, and that circumstance drives much of the plot in this play, especially during the second act.
Jona writes in his playwright's note in the program that this is a play "about a place I'd never been but always wanted to go." I love that in Antarctica we not only get to spend a couple of hours in a mythic and singular place, but--particularly during the first act--we get to really stand in the shoes of unheralded folk who actually have workaday existences in a land almost nobody will ever get close to.
Last night, a bit of a stomach bug prevented me from attending the 10th annual New York Innovative Theatre Awards, but I am sure the event was up to the usual high standard! Congratulations to the Indie Theater Now plays honored: