Taps
Lightbox Studio
Through March 17

Gladdeen Schrock's Taps hints at cohesive meaning, without ever directly revealing what that meaning is. This ambiguity is frustrating, but necessary. Almost instinctual, the tapeworm that is the human brain senses that there is a nice intestine to burrow into, but can't quite get a grip on the slippery thing. It continues to try, though, because its instincts tell it that if it ever does find a groove to slip into, it's going to have a feast of bile to make its effort worthwhile.

Here's what I saw: Two figures clad in white, one male, one female, were removed from chambers resembling UFO storage tanks by a character called the Moderator (Ian Greenfield) and his two helpers (Abigail Pierce and Lauren Lockey). The moderator immediately started banging on a podium with a stick and shouting instructions, which were carried out by all four parties. The helpers delivered props when needed, transformed into whatever characters specific scenes demanded, engaged in general weird ritualistic behavior, and did anything else necessary to help the man (Garth Silberstein) and woman (Heather Beckett) transition through a series of scenes. Those scenes seemed to gradually, in a very roundabout manner, add up to the epic story of Sir Ralph and Lady Margaret, who presided over a land called something like Dackerdash.

Many lines hinted to the idea that Ralph and Margaret's lives and times were somehow analogous to the life and times of the entire human race. It almost seemed like their emergence into the space was like Adam and Eve's emergence into the Garden of Eden, only instead of being cast out of the Garden after disobeying God, Adam and Eve are allowed to remain. They acquire the impulses that make humans imperfect in the eyes of God, but are allowed to remain in the Garden, where they can do basically anything and live forever. We are allowed to watch their existences unfold under these circumstances. In theater, gauging performances like this one is often fruitless, because the line between stylistic effect and poor quality is usually muddled. I can say that Silberstein's performance as Ralph is severely hindered by a combination of poor acoustics and terrible diction. A large percentage of his lines are lost completely, and the ones that remain are delivered in a tedious frenzy of hyperactivity, as if manic excitement were a suitable substitute for thoughtful interpretation. As Margaret, Beckett fares much better. Her scenes with her son, David, played by one of the drones, are a poignant contrast to earlier scenes of blatant sexuality.

If the director, Greenfield, has a personal vision for this text, it is unclear, and so what lingers are individual moments. What it all adds up to is undecipherable. I've found a few seams through which bile can be sporadically sucked, but no grooves thus far. I think that's a good thing, though. It gives me just enough of a taste to keep trying for the whole shebang.