By Sandi Durell
You’re in the Army Mr. (or Ms.) Jones! Only one of the unexpected turns in Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, Queen of the Night) and Ryan Heffington’s (Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ music video) newest offering currently ensconced under the Highline. The title is taken from one of the American Songbook’s most iconic songs “I’ll Be Seeing You,” with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal, written in 1938. The song is heard twice throughout the 90 minutes of run time.
In this themed wartime setting, audience members are given a dog tag and a slip of paper (on which you will fill in your answer to an important question later) and enter a large dark space where we are greeted by WWII style soldiers and family members in various vignettes – – mothers, lovers, sisters and brothers – – dramatically playing out the emotional surges of goodbyes (in, of all places, Hoboken NJ) – where you meet a Japanese-American school teacher, a photographer, a closeted gay couple and many more – and are herded along so as not to miss any of the action or, in some cases, your own interaction.
Please be alerted to the fact that you are moving in and through the spaces, without intermission, and on your feet all the time (a fact more senior audience members should be aware of – comfy shoes & clothes a must – while you check all your belongings).
It’s both dance (in many forms including ballet, robotic style movements/mime – choreography Heffington), and theater in a whirlwind fashion as a town hall convenes as Congressman (Ted Hannan) speaks of bombs and wartime and a family meets for a last goodbye dinner.
The pace is fast and furious moving along and taking you into its clutches and even into the military as we line up to go thru the maneuvers of basic training (Yes, Sir!). It’s also bloody, gory and replete with loud sirens and effects and a hi-energy ensemble of unending talents.
In the midst of it all, you’re taken to a cabaret / USO canteen show that is both glitzy patriotic and darkly sobering, and includes some memorable dance numbers and notable costumes.
Costumes are by Desi Santiago with lighting by Jamie Roderick and sound by Shannon Slaton.
The message is a clear reminder of the horrors of war, lost lives and survival as it raises the senses in numerous ways. It’s dark in its presentation and you won’t walk out with a big smile on your face.
Photo: Steven Truman Gray
Seeing You – 450 West 14th Street (under the Highline) thru August 31