Your Soul in a Thimble

Photo by Elizabeth O'Hara YagerA businessman is supposed to take a flight to Valparaiso, Ohio, but gets on a plane bound for Valparaiso, Florida, instead. By another miscalculation, he ends up flying to Valparaiso, Chile, near the bottom of the world: a curious series of mishaps held together by the coincidence of a name. The news media get wind of it: hey, look, here's a funny little human-interest story that might bookend a broadcast and massage the audience right into the commercial. We can exploit the bejesus out of this.

But the businessman craves the exploitation like some addled trailer-park teen impregnated by her mother's boyfriend on Sally Jesse Raphael. Desperate to fill his life with enough white noise to drown out a family tragedy that has left him limp with guilt and emptiness, he bows before each journalist who visits his home, cravenly eager to narratize his life according to the demands of each medium. “Speak faster,” one says, and he does; “Look into camera two,” says another, and he can do that, too. By the end, he finds himself on America's preeminent daytime talk show, an Oprah clone, and he's spilling out his deepest secrets with the talk-show host egging him on—”I want your soul in a silver thimble. . . . I want your naked shit-most self”—until an apotheosis comes that feels every bit as inevitable as the proverbial gun glimpsed in the first act that goes off in the last.

This Warholian parable of a man collapsing into his 15 minutes of fame is written by that great novelist (White Noise, Underworld) and chronicler of postmodern suffering, Don DeLillo, and staged by the energetic folks at downtown San Diego's Sledgehammer Theater, who engage banks of TVs above the audience, video cameras projecting the action onstage against the theater's back wall, deafening sound effects, a Greek chorus of bruised, partially nude flight attendants who look like they just survived a crash landing—all the Zoo TV Tour stuff imaginable to get across the play's theme, that when your sense of identity has been emptied out by dread, dislocation and tragedy, the mass media is always there to fill you back up again with its slippery seductions. Director Matthew Wilder revs the play at full throttle from the first minute and never lets up. The actors scream, leer, paw and menace one another; the music and video sound are cranked to 11. There's all manner of post-Brechtian stylization. This is one muscular, intense production.

Unnecessarily muscular and intense, it turns out. DeLillo's dialogue distills the language of mass media to a pitiless, sublime ironic poetry: it doesn't require the hard sell Wilder gives it. “Calm down, everybody,” you want to say, “trust the words to do more of the work.” Slow the thick drip of sarcasm and menace seeping from the media characters (especially Shonda R. Dawson, who can't pull off the necessary gravitas to convince us she's a TV goddess); ratchet down the decibel level (especially the nearly heroic Lisel M. Gorell, who's required to scream five times in a row, “Nobody's eating my sandwiches!” at the end of Act I); and contemplate how well underplaying a scene—the way the businessman (Matt Kautz) and an interviewer (Nicole Monica) do in their scene together, or the way Walter Murray plays the talk-show sidekick—brings out the play's subterranean pathos. Valparaiso's power lies in the vulnerable silence beneath its noise, and it'd be nice if Wilder trusted us to hear it more than he does.

Valparaiso at Sledgehammer Theater, 1620 Sixth Ave., San Diego, (619) 544-1484. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through July 7. $15-$20.

6 Replies to “Your Soul in a Thimble”

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  3. Advice on your thorny friendly relationship questions from Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

    Have a question you’ll want to ask Dear Life Kit anonymously? write it here. Friendships are one of the most formative relationships in our lives, And they’re also often incorporate a complex. acquaintance boundaries can be tough to define, And the road forward grows hazier the older you get. We asked them to answer your anonymous questions about friendship.

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    All mom-daughter relationships fall underneath which class? The theme for relationships is definitely quite common, why? It’s a kind of easy but fully unexpected actions that spare your relationship from complete spoil as a result of it reminds you why you love your associate and why you might be within the relationship in the first place. As we are acquiring some good progress in the method, we must always search for major causes on why we must always go about it. They do not, unless I occur to be performing at an occasion that pursuits them for other reasons. We do not have many pursuits in widespread, but we’re each willing to learn extra about one another’s passions. No. We choose to have very separate schedules. Yes. It helps us coordinate our schedules. A CRM system helps businesses arrange and centralize their info on clients, allowing for easier access and buyer support. Automation capabilities have been added to many CRM systems, automating numerous workflow automation processes, reminiscent of duties, calendars and alerts. However, market analysis relating to customers’ preferences could enhance the adoption of CRM amongst creating countries’ shoppers. If you wish to market yourself then there are a variety of how you’ll be able to avail. He posits that good relations between enterprises and prospects outcomes in additional environment friendly benchmarking, identifying new potential merchandise, reduce the fee of recent product development and enhance market acceptance of products.

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    It’s essential to make sure your profile is just not solely a direct reflection of you, but that it’s put collectively in an interesting means. Free online dating sites generally put ahead similar services. In order to maneuver forward along with your conversation and make it fascinating one must share widespread interests with their date so that a degree of understanding may very well be achieved. Learning these first date suggestions, your dating life is going to change for the higher. We had chemistry right away, related life habits and targets, we adapt to each other’s must be considerate of one another, and we assist each other to be our best. That stated, embrace no less than one picture exhibiting your whole body. As for these profile footage, Etting says, “The first picture must be a clear shot of your face, and exhibiting much less is more. It takes extra courage than doing it on their lonesome.

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