by: Marcina Zaccaria
In “What We Know,” One Year Lease Theater Company presents a haunting story written by Scottish playwright Pamela Carter.
Pamela Carter’s most recent work includes “Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner” for untitled Projects/National Theatre of Scotland at Tramway, Glasgow in June 2013 and “Fast Ganz Nah (Almost Near)” which premiered at Dresden Staatshausspiel April 2013.
“What We Know” asks plenty of questions. How do we reconstruct our experiences after a painful occurrence? Does preparing a meal bring back memories? How do friends lead you through processing traumatic events?
Sarah-Jane Casey, an actress raised in Auckland, New Zealand, plays Lucy. As friends and strangers find Lucy in her home, they help her in piecing together moments from her past. Lucy’s premonitions or feelings of anxiety are immediate. When we look at what we know, we also consider what we don’t.
It’s an interesting structure. At the beginning of the play, Jo teaches Lucy how to cook a dish. It’s less of a pastime and more of a means of connection. When considering gnocchi or puttanesca sauce, their partnering is heartfelt. Direction by Ianthe Demos and Natalie Lomonte is both emotional and choreographic. As the main characters glide through the space forwards and backwards, Lucy and Jo (Nick Flint) prepare a meal that makes sense for them. In their distance and proximity, they tell a story not of profound love but of partnership and comfort.
Later, as guests surprisingly appear in Lucy’s home, she greets them with a welcoming skepticism. Her gaze is sometimes haunting, and her words are careful. As she speaks through every phrase, she seems to be asking not only for support but also for acceptance and recognition. She hopes not to cover up the tragedy that happened in her home, but rather uncover the pattern of the events moment by moment.
The feeling of aloneness and solitude is interrupted by the warmth of friends and neighbors. Helen (Vanessa Kai), Cal (Richard Saudek), and Charlie (Kim Weild) are a compassionate team that, over the course of a meal, conduct a kind of investigation. Sometimes in slow motion, sometimes with grand gesture, they help Lucy re-create the story of Jo’s passing. Although poetic, the aural and visual logic is never overwhelming.
Some of Scenic Designer James Dardenne’s work is ingenious. Like something from a small farming community blasted into a post-modern painting, the set leaves enough space for surprise. The look of black cookware is quite cool while actual food onstage feels quite warm. Food comes from the openings in the center of the table. Bright vegetables and plants brighten the space. Tables rotate through the space, and chairs on castors roll around to provide the best portraits of the cast. Costume Design by Sydney Maresca is contemporary and effortless. Colors from the costumes are understated, and reflect styles that are American and international.
“What We Know” is presented by the ensemble of One Year Lease Theater Company, which brought the critically acclaimed “pool (no water)” by Mark Ravenhill to NYC audiences in 2012. One Year Lease Theater Company (OYL) premieres bold international works of theater in New York City. OYL advocates physically powerful, ensemble-based theater while creating worlds that are raw, poetic, and visceral.
The US premiere of “What We Know” by Pamela Carter will run until December 21st at Teatro Circulo, 64 East 4th Street. Tickets can be arranged by calling 866.811.4111. For more information, please visit www.oneyearlease.org.