Review in San Francisco Weekly on Life Machine

Review in San Francisco Weekly on Life Machine

The Life Machine DanzHaus, 1275 Connecticut, SF; www.faultlinetheater.com. $15-20. Fri/8-Sat/9, 8pm; Sun/10,2pm. A naïve and restive young woman (Gwen Kingston), working as admin for a high-powered and ethically questionable business firm, marries her pig-headed and lecherous boss (Nick Medina) in a desperate bid to escape the drudgery of the work-a-day world. Instead, she finds her suffocating marriage and unwanted motherhood its own prison. An extramarital affair with a latter-day beatnik (Jon Oleson) gives her a first taste of life and freedom, for which she pays the ultimate price when things go south. Set in a palpably near future, this socially rich dystopic drama acknowledges several “reflective texts” as influences, including Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” and (as evidenced in some of Maxx Kurzunshki and Clive Walker’s wide-ranging and remarkable video design) Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi. But the piece remains in large part an astute revamping and updating of Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal. Director Cole Ferraiuolo’s inspired retooling of that 1928 expressionist stage classic proves a potent contemporary lens on the persistent anomie of the people, and growing enemies of the state, in a self-congratulatory high-tech and hyper-connected world. Sophie Needelman’s mercurial choreography for five dancers, meanwhile, evokes everything from the crush of the daily commute to the cyborg cogs of the post-industrial work world or the drift of the moon across a fathomless sky. At the heart of this worthwhile production from impressive newcomers FaultLine are a handful of strong and intelligent performances. These are led by Kingston’s dynamic, rigorously unsentimental performance as a tragically alienated every-woman, who must suffer any number of mundane indignities before her apotheosis as a deeply violent and repressed society’s convenient cipher. (Avila)