15 Minutes

Devised by The Company

Written by Mitch Vermeersch & Aaron Dean15 minutes by ruckus theater

Directed by Allison Shoemaker

Produced by The Ruckus

At The Side Project

Weird experimental theatre work fizzles

The folks at The Ruckus love to challenge their audiences and they sure have with their latest work – 15 Minutes. This experimental work is an overly long and tedious work that shows how much humans become as they depersonalize themselves through an over dependence on technology.  We find a group of five persons each living in a small space and spending their days touching and communicating with a large interactive screen. They live, work and exist in those confined spaces with human physical touch. They are living robots devoid of many basic human needs.

15 minutes by ruckus theater

We see the five living in frustration as their alienation fuels their basic need for connection  on several levels consumes them.  The tedious first act so over states that concept that I quickly became as frustrated with the play as they were with their isolation. The irritating videos only added to the weirdness of this work. The main theme seems to be that change- technological change to be exact – rules out world. But the writers of this folly seem to reject Marchall McLuhan’s prediction that “unless their is a ‘high touch’ element is present to a new technology, it will be rejected by society.”

In their world, the technology rules them and becomes their governing force. But a strange man arrives to allow each a golden ticket that would allow the group of five to live together outside their boxes to experience human interaction. But, by the time that happens in act two, I was so bored with the repetition of their existence that it didn’t matter. The resistance and inhibitions were  dominant in each that human touch, even sexual encounters didn’t affect their psychic much.  I’m not sure what the writers were striving for because the tedium so dominated that I became anxious for this one hour and forty-five minute show to end.

Despite dedicated performances from Timo Aker, Joshua Davis, Alyse Kittner, Stevie Chaddock Lambert, Elise Mayfield and Karie Miller, I never became engaged in the premise of 15 Minutes. Lovers of experimental works may find the show fascinating, I did not. Severe cuts, a clear focus and cuts in the use of video would help.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: June 10, 2011

For full show information, go to the 15 Minutes page at TheatreinChicago.

At The Side Project, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago,IL, call 773-769-7257, www.ruckustheater.org, tickets $15, Thursdays thru Sundays at 7:30 pm, running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes with intermission, through June 26, 2011