Saturday, June 21, 2008
Theater Review: Homeland Insecurity: or How I Learned to Love the Patriot Act
A lagging and dragging future dystopia send-up of our times.
Cough, cough. Lights up.
In most theatrical performances, the lights go up and down by an visual cue from the stage manager, with the audience oblivious.
In the case of Homeland Insecurity: Or How I Learned to Love the Patriot Act" presented by MBS Productions, a more, um, peculiar method is used. Coughing.
At the start of the two-act, two-hour play, the actors, entering the stage in a blackout, were directed to cough, loudly, to let the stage manager to turn on the lights and begin the show.
This obviously contrived cue was followed up by an equally contrived production. Set twenty years in the future, Homeland Insecurity follows the Shrubs, a thirty-something Highland Park couple, who attempt to adjust to their new life, forced to host an eccentric marine, known as Jenkins, stationed in their home because of the recently revamped Third Amendment (look it up). Meanwhile, the government has slowly encroached upon almost every aspect of our freewill and privacy, shrouding their actions in the country's fear of possible terrorism. They even control the cows.
- Addison Theatre Center
15650 Addison Road
- $16 - $21
The play begins with George Shrub (played by Joe Porter) and Sylla Shrub (played by Sherri Small Truitt) discussing the country's current situation, their dialogue interspersed with tidbits from Oprah and Dr. Phil (wait, Oprah's alive and relevant twenty years from now?). This scene plays out as a forty-minute chunk of exposition, stretched out even longer than Oprah's reign as talk show queen. With minute after minute of predictable punchlines, unnecessary usage of props and unmotivated blocking (characters walking while talking without purpose), you might find yourself needing another glass of wine at intermission. Actors wander across stage, back and forth, distracting from the text and cleaning the same table three times within the first two scenes (see "unmotivated" above). Lines are fumbled and jokes are spoon-fed to the audience.
The pace begins to pick up at the introduction of Jenkins, the marine and antagonist (played by Chad Halbrook), and as the play progresses one comes to wonder the true intentions of the soldiers who are squatting (being "guartered") in homes across the country. Are they here to protect, or to control? The use of fear as a political tool, coupled the dumbing down of mass media, is an issue highly relevant to today, and for the most part the character of Jenkins portrays this theme effectively.
While the script itself showed promise, this production seemed to drag a bit, as if the director hadn't figured out a way to make it believable. Homeland Insecurity, based on interesting yet familiar visions of a future dystopia (see Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, 1984, etc.) could spark dialogue about our society, but on the whole, this production doesn't translate onto the stage.
To cue "lights out," the actors made yawning sounds. How fitting.
The show runs until June 28 and you can purchase tickets online or by calling 214-477-4942.
See more stories in:
- Theater review: Locally written Sons of Bennett is an ambitious, but flawed, effort
- Will the Andersons put their $1.5 million estate on the market after a high-profile split?
- No game: Dallas has the second lowest amount of sex in the U.S.
- Theater review: The Futility of Hope could be a landmark play if it took itself more seriously
- First look: New Dallas cinema seriously upgrades dinner-and-a-movie