Thursday, November 21, 2013

Unpacking Proust: Dead Centre's "Souvenir"

All photos: Bush Moukarzel in Souvenir
courtesy of Dead Centre
Have you managed to make your way through the seven volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu? Oh, no worries. Go to Abrons Arts Center tonight, tomorrow night or Saturday night. Writer-actor Bush Moukarzel, of Ireland's Dead Centre troupe, will unpack just enough Proust for you in a theater space strewn with numerous moving boxes--labeled "Seagulls, samovars, etc.," "Red Death," "Apologies" and, of course, "Madeleines," and the like--amid a shower of pages from a disintegrating book. And he will do so in a mere 56 minutes.

Although somewhat farblonjet at the start of Souvenir, Moukarzel's lovelorn, treadmill-running character--called Bush and, therefore, I suppose, himself--snaps into sentimental, comic or furious focus whenever selected boxes call up narratives on love, time, memory and the like. A blackboard bearing the single item on his to-do list--To Do: 1) Make The Show--gives you some idea of how loose things are and can get with Proust's prose sharing time-space continuum with the likes of 50 Shades of Grey, Beyoncé, a Springsteen classic accompanied on harmonium, and an experiment in constructed memory via boxes of Viewmasters. It all feels deeply haphazard, which leaves room for any number of daffy surprises. Mourkarzel comes off as a right sort to have a beer with; indeed, his affable rapport with the audience opens our way into Souvenir and never lets us get lost in his helpless clutter.

directed by Ben Kidd, with music by Adam Welsh and set by Florence McHugh

Souvenir runs through November 23 with performances at 8pm. Click here for information and tickets.

Abrons Arts Center (Experimental Theater)
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street), Manhattan

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