Out of Time is a show comprised of five monologues, written by Anna Ouyang Moench, Mia Chung, Jaclyn Backhaus, Naomi Iizuka and Sam Chanse; directed by Les Waters. The monologues can stand alone or as a cohesive piece. With a running time of two and half hours, the segmented nature of the project helps to break up the evening and keep the attention of its audience. The profound connective tissue of themes around race and humanity, the skilled performances and unique technical design make Out of Time an unparalleled theatrical experience.
Theatre in this pandemic era is as complicated an art form as ever leaving some playwrights to decide whether or not to acknowledge the virus or incorporate current events within the writing or simply create art that is an escapist medium. Out of Time speaks to the pandemic and social distancing by including the character’s anxieties around contagion and social interaction. “Ball in the Air” even includes a character’s panic over an election. This bit of political theatre helps to illustrate discussions of race as it pertains to Asian Americans. Every monologue touches upon the topics of death, intimate relationships, and vulnerability. These shared themes point to the similarities in the human experience. Every piece deftly jumps between wry comedy and moments of poignant authenticity. Although each piece exists within its own genre and style, the brilliance of the writing connects the monologues to make it a night of exemplary theatre.
The concept of the show involves five Asian American playwrights writing monologues for five Asian American actors over the age of 60, performed by Page Leong, Mia Katigbak, Rita Wolf, Glenn Kubota and Natsuko Ohama. Each actor manages to fill the large space with just their stage presence. The specific physical choices made by the actors highlight the unique personality traits of the characters. The ways the actors moved through the space and gestured informed their portrayal of the characters. Each character felt different from the last. The actors expertly switch between laughing and crying, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. These actors really make the audience love their characters.
The performance space felt particularly large for a series of solo pieces. However, they managed to utilize the space to its full capacity. The lighting by Reza Behjat and the set design by the design collective, dots, aided the storytelling while clearly differentiating one piece from the other. The utilization of curtains, cycloramas and the topography of the set pieces all helped make the show visually pleasing and engaging. In “Ball in the Air”, the back of the set opens up to show a blinding light, shocking the audience in the same way the character is shocked in a moment of panic. The play also uses live streaming and large screens to help tell the story.
This show is sure to spark empathy in its audience. Out of Time is an evening of theatre, folks are sure to remember for a long time. The show creates opportunities for the sharing of diverse stories and voices, while also showing the excellence of Asian American theatre artists.
"Out of Time"
Written by: Anna Ouyang Moench, Mia Chung, Jaclyn Backhaus, Naomi Iizuka and Sam Chanse
Directed by Les Waters
Performed by: Page Leong, Mia Katigbak, Rita Wolf, Glenn Kubota and Natsuko Ohama
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 mins; 15 min Intermission
February 15 - March 13, 2022
The Public Theatre (425 Lafayette St, New York City)
CARMEN BURBRIDGE is a Brooklyn-based actor and writer, originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. They have worked with New Dramatists, Portland Playhouse and The Farm Theater. It is her mission to create a convergence of hearts and minds in an effort to expose underrepresented stories and make the world a better place. They are passionate about trauma informed work, laughter, play and community.