a love story, i often think
By Arne Lygre
Directed by Chad Eric Bergman
& Breahan Eve Pautsch
Produced by Akvavit Theatre
At Signal Ensemble Theatre, Chicago
“I said,” “I thought,” “She said,” “I think,” etc.
Strange work by Norwegian playwright defies analysis
Akvavit Theatre company produces plays from the five Nordic countries on Chicago stages. Nothing of Me, by Arne Lygre, is a strange piece, indeed. I don’t know if the work suffers from translation difficulties or something inherent in the core writing, but it sure suffers from the redundant and irritating use of dialog infused with narrative depersonalizing credits like “I said,” “I thought,” “She said,” “I think,” etc. After a while, all one hears are those qualifiers, which certainly defuses the storytelling.
According to the press notes, Nothing of Me (now in its Midwest premiere) is a post-modern ghost story. It sure is the weirdest ghost story ever. The coldness of the narrative/dialogue format leaves the characters coming off as mechanical, almost lifeless beings. It is difficult to relate to this style of a love story that finds two folks with de-personalized dialogue uttering lines like: “I lusted for her, I thought.” or “Let’s go for a car ride, I said.”
Then there are the two main characters. Me (Bergen Anderson) is a 40ish woman who leaves her daughter and husband without explanation for younger man, He (Dan Wilson). Is Me running away from something? We later learn about a family tragedy. Yet she seems to selfishly just want a sexual affair with a young guy. He is a weirdly blunt guy with little personality. Both want to dominate with their expectations, I guess?
We meet He’s mother and Me’s mother, played deftly by Kirstin Franklin, and later we meet Me’s Ex (Paul S. Holmquist). We easily see what happens, but we scratch our heads as to the meanings. The dark side of the bond of love and the hold love can make can lead to a death bond, I guess?
This provocative 75 minute play might get us wondering about the controlling nature of love and relationships, but the coldness of the characters and that irritating use of narrative dialogue diminishes our connection to the story. The characters come off more as zombie-like caricatures than people. I left the theatre wondering who the audience is for this play? It is enough of a “downer” without much artistic merit to be avoided.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 5, 2016
For more info checkout the Nothing of Me page at theatreinchicago.com
At Signal Ensemble, 1802 W. Berenice, Chicago, IL, tickets $20, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through April 3, 2016