DallasNews.com: "D-FW theater companies go for laughs at the expense of our turbulent times"

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D-FW theater companies go for laughs at the expense of our turbulent times

Virtual productions ... explore themes from the sublime to the ridiculous.

By Manuel Mendoza | Mar 11, 2021 | DallasNews.com

Whether it’s throwing yourself from a kayak into turbulent waters or staring at a massive face carved into rock, humans are always searching for the sublime, the place where terror meets joy, where death gets cheated. The sublime sounds heavy.

But as presented by Stage West Theatre over Zoom, In Search of the Sublime is also a good time. The depth of this new interactive piece — don’t call it a play — sneaks up on you.

Both live on stage and prerecorded for a screen behind them, the performers tell their anecdotes about brushes with the sublime, dance to pop music, pantomime, crack wise, curse and create a drinking game as they explicate the heady concept. They take inspiration from 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s theory that there are five increasingly strong levels of the sublime.

The first joke is a thinly veiled shot at the national stage actors union whose COVID-19 restrictions has prevented member organizations like Stage West from reopening their theaters. “Plays are wrong,” an officious announcer intones. " No plays here.”

Devised by the actors and their understudies (dubbed “poets”), including Victoria A. Cruz, Olivia de Guzman, Kelsey Milbourn, Shyama Nithiananda, Galen Sho Sato, Mitchell Stephens and Garret Storms, In Search was written and directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni and produced by Storms and Danielle Georgiou’s new entity, Moonrise Initiative, which is making work specifically designed for our unusual era.

By the time the show gets to Storms’ moving family story, the audience is so loosened up from the humor laden throughout, they’re ready to plunge into the profound.