The Emperor’s New Pseudoscience: BLINDERS

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Suck it Trump (via Tumblr)

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Korinne T. Ritchey

June 10 – 25, 2016
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
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Chris and Alex 11!!!!11 on Tumblr

Review by Kitty Drexel

I’m not going to make this review about Orlando, FL. That would not help Flat Earth or the 50+ victims of terrorist action. I’ve put info about constructively helping at the bottom of this review. Now go actively spread love and dismantle hate when and where you see it.

(Watertown, MA) The “scientific” discovery of two identical snowflakes has sparked a fad for naturally identical things. Shortly after the snowflake discovery, Chris (Matt Arnold) and Alex (Justus Perry), two exactly alike, human carbon copies are found. They are men who share one experience in two bodies. They are not twins. The US goes bonkers for their celebrity. Their rapid popularity makes Bieber Fever tame in comparison. Try as one might, they are impossible to avoid. They run for President in a campaign too popular to fail.

Except, Chris and Alex aren’t exact copies. Manipulative marketing has duped the human population into believing they are. Conformity is law. The only person willing to publicly denounce them is Karen Sayer (Kimberly McClure). For bravely speaking the truth, she becomes a hunted social and political pariah. It becomes her personal mission to take down Chris and Alex. She isn’t the hero the US needs. She’s the hero the US deserves.

Blinders mostly works as theatre. Gabridge’s script goes to a weird place. We see him initiate his characters into a groupthink mentality usually reserved for lynch mobs. But his script doesn’t reach a nadir of science fictional weirdness. He stops just short of Crazytown; his characters see their flaws but don’t embrace them. What we really want is to see these characters drive to Crazytown, park on Crazy Lane, rent a room in a crazy bed & breakfast, and drink the Koolaid in a local watering hole.

We’re briefly given a glimpse of the severity of Alex and Chris’s control over the minds of the populace. In a potentially triggering moment, a straight jacket is used. The costume is a visual cue that immediately informs us of the wrongs being committed. When the straight jacket disappears, complacency reappears. Perhaps this was Gabridge’s point after all. A complacent audience is a distractible audience.

Despite good pacing, the first act had low energy. The second act had more but the cast didn’t hit its stride until a quarter of the way through.  

Vote! Image via Tumblr

Vote! Image via Tumblr

Arnold and Perry were a duo of a seemingly endless supply of zest. They are zestful robots in a grand machine. Their scenes pulled the show up by its bootstraps. They were gregarious yet smarmy. Their performance was impressive and also repellent. Political perfection.  

McClure performance as Sayer is like watching a whistle-blowing Sally Field negotiate a long con in a dystopian alternate reality. She’s a veritable Cassandra in a play full of Trojan nonbelievers. I want to love her but I respect her mission too much.  

Glen Moore does exceptional character work. The entire ensemble plays a variety of characters but it appears that Moore won the lottery several times over. Each is unique and has clear goals. His work is impressive.

Blinders is a cross between “Superstar,” the episode of Buffy in which Jonathan performs a reality altering spell to make him smooth as Hell, and The Twilight Zone. The events that unfold on stage are uncannily familiar to that of this year’s election season (pick any side). In the play, the pseudoscience that rationalizes giving more power to the already powerful and burdening the poor wins. The difference to our reality being that there’s a freedom fighter on the inside playing by slightly different rules. Real reality is not so optimistic.

Please see Blinders and any other theatre if you can. It’s a good show created by a brilliant team. Theatre has the power to help us heal. Compassionate truths will lead us to freedom. Be well.

RE: Orlando:
Have money you’d like to donate to help the victims and their families? www.gofundme.com/2942a444
These sources have created a list of actions for those wanting to donate their time and energy: CNNTimeMashableBustle

If you can’t donate or attend a vigil then these are other options. They are completely free.
1. Be civil to others in person or online . You don’t know how others process frustration, anger or pain.
2. Be sympathetic to the people arguing the loudest and the cruelest. They don’t know what to do either.
3. Write a letter to your politicians. It’s their jobs to listen to the people they represent. Remember that they are people too.
4. If you can’t do these things then breathe. Take care of yourself without harming others.

Now go actively spread love and dismantle hate when and where you see it.

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