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Theater Out of Order is proof that DIY performance could benefit from a pro's touch

Wednesday, Sep 19 2007

This production serves as a cautionary tale in making theater without designers. There are several moments in this 45-minute evening of three one-act plays where, if you closed your eyes, you could imagine the nuances of the text being so much better served by compelling sets, lighting, and costumes. Instead, playwright Chris Hayes and the young company Theatre Out of Order decided to make do on their own, a choice that sucks all the potential theatrical creativity out of the plays. What we get comes across as your basic school-production fare, with poorly painted backdrops and furniture that appears randomly harvested from the cast's own homes. It also doesn't help that Hayes chose to direct: An outside eye would probably have added more exciting visual elements. I'm all for do-it-yourself theater, but there are plenty of fine young designers and directors in the Bay Area who are happy to work for next to nothing for the chance to give stories a rich theatrical life. If upstart theater companies want to "revitalize the American stage," as Theatre Out of Order proclaims it does, I suggest they use them.

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Molly Rhodes


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