REVIEW: Under the Radar Festival – Andrew Schneider’s “After”
A primary purpose of the Public Theater’s “Under the Radar Festival” is to put emerging artists on the theatregoer’s radar, and highlight new and different types of performing arts. Given that mandate, I can’t think of a better fit than Andrew Schneider’s “After”, which is currently playing a sold out, eight performance run at the festival.
Following his 2015 Obie Award winning piece “Youarenowhere” (read alternatively as “you are now here” and “you are nowhere”), Mr. Schneider, whose creative prowess is equal parts technical and conceptive, produces a meditative mix of sound, light, movement, and spoken word in “After” that is at once dangerous, dream-like, darkly comical, and deeply observational, exploring the mundanity of life, certainty of death, and the balance between.
Unfolding as a series of impossibly supercut scenes, most involving Alicia Ayo Ohs and Mr. Schneider mid-conversation, a warning outside the hall and in the program states that the performance “uses haze, strobe, sound spatialization technology, and a prolonged period of total darkness.” And boy, does it. The technical marvels of the 80 minute show and its parade of “how’d they do that?”-inducing moments never grow tiresome or gratuitous. Instead, they envelop and invite the audience to become complicit in the exquisite if confusing theatremaking before them.
During that “prolonged period of total darkness”, as discomfort waxes and wanes and eyes adjust, a walking stick figure of a human body appears, at first slowly, cloudily, and tentatively. You quickly debate and reason whether what you are seeing is real or a trick or simply imagination. You blink. You convince yourself, “yes”. And then the apparition is gone. I don’t know how it was done. I’m only 98.5% certain it even happened. But it was one of several chilling moments conjured by Mr. Schenider’s technically and inventively thrilling stagecraft, all in service of the probing questions we fear about life and death.
What’s “After” about? That question feels a bit beside the point for a piece that will not condescend to cutely expound its own sprawling ontological and existential idea trees, and whose ambition is matched by a stunning theatricality equally as mysterious. A better question is what will Mr. Schneider do after this? Whatever it is, I look forward to it, and recommend you put him on your radar.
at the Martinson Hall
as part of the Under the Radar Festival
The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003
Monday, January 8th at 7pm
Thursday, January 11th at 5pm
Thursday, January 11th at 9pm
Saturday, January 13th at 10pm
Sunday, January 14th at 1pm