by Michael Meigs
Oh Dragon Theatre Company's choice of the Grayduck Gallery just off south First Street as the venue to stage Will Eno's The Flu Season is appropriate. The white walls, open space, and angled positioning of the seats for the audience create a stark setting for a stark play. In his odd little fable of anomie, set in a mental clinic, Will Eno tells a story that could squeeze our hearts if only he didn't keep relentlessly undercutting our reactions.
|Ky Cleveland, Nicholaus Weindel (photo: Oh Dragon)|
Rounding out the cast are the Prologue (Kendra Pérez) and the Epilogue (Ben Howell) -- although neither exercises the announced function. They comment throughout the play. Pérez has a reassuringly pert demeanor that's balanced by Howell's arch, cynical responses. Playwright Eno uses 'Epilogue' in a deliberately 'meta' approach. Epilogue's voice seems to be that of the playwright, drawing attention to the conventions of the drama and insistently questioning the value of his own creation.
|Kendra Perez (photo: Oh Dragon Theatre)|
Both in its title and in the cycle of its action, The Flu Season suggests the eternal predictability of human existence. Strangers meet, bond, become intimate, quarrel, separate, die; seen from the outside, those intensely personal stories are reduced to clinical histories. We watch two couples here. The young wounded grasp feebly for feeling and their placid elders bumble about and bond in routine and mediocrity. In fact, there's a third couple: Prologue and Epilogue stand at conventional literary remove from the story, disputing one another's declarations without directly addressing one another, like a couple long married with never a meeting of the minds.
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