By Sandi Durell
It can be rather depressing when you’re a kid thinking about death, but that’s what seven kids, ages 9 to 14, find themselves not only thinking about, but actually living through the process that eventually gets them there. The Gob Squad at the Public Theater is involved in a unique brand of theatricality involving two Teams – 1 & A. The performance I watched featured Team A.
The kids are put through their paces behind a one-way mirror as they age, decade by decade, led by a “voice” featured in an LED readout above the stage that directs their activities by asking questions. The setting is like a playroom filled with a TV, toys and objects strewn about, and a camera for up close projection of the actors for the audience to view.
The seven talented youngsters started the process two years ago and thus they speak to older videos of themselves, at times, comparing where they were then and now – – somewhat discomforting for some as well as the audience. If this has a familiar ring, you may be thinking of the film “Boyhood.”
But more than that, with the use of wigs, face paint for makeup, clothing accessories or even some baby powder sprinkled on hair, these young actors (Mikai Anthony, Eloise Celine, Margalit Duclayan, Jasper Newell, Maeve Press, Matthew Quirk, Aja Nichole Webber) experience what it’s like to go from childhood or where they’re at now (dancing wildly to “Don’t Stop Me Now”), to experimenting teenagers (Goth makeup, leather and chains, cocaine and marijuana) to middle aged responsible or irresponsible adults, married, divorced, parents, and the boring syndrome of cocktail parties, where the telling background music has each lip-sync to the sad “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”
We can readily see ourselves through the eyes of these youngsters, recalling the different stages of our lives and it has great emotional impact. These youngsters, however, may find themselves better prepared as they’re living through life on fast-forward (70 minutes) knowing more about what ultimately awaits them.
Public Theater –Martinson Hall, 425 Lafayette St., www.publictheater.org 1 hr. 10 minutes no intermission thru Nov. 29 212 967-7555
Photos: Joan Marcus