John Cage was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher, and artist. He seemed like the perfect subject for a work of theatrical art. Presented by Abingdon Theatre Company, SITI Company’s Chess Match No. 5 finds the world of John Cage live on stage. Conceived and directed by Anne Bogart and text arrangement by Jocelyn Clarke, Chess Match No. 5 maintains your attention for some time until it just becomes a superfluous examination of what else can be thrown at the wall.
|photo by Maria Baranova|
If the experimental elements of SITI Company is not for you, the production design will keep you enthralled at least. This piece cannot exist without sound. And the sound design from Darron L. West is out of this world. Between the placement of microphones to the incorporation of atmospheric sounds, West’s design is just another example of how important sound is to live theater. Pairing it with Brian H. Scott’s lighting design, Anne Bogart told a story in this art piece. Scott introduces the audience into his light show by dousing the big bright open stage in light when the house opens. At first, it may be a bit much. Scott used the various exposed bulbs regularly as the focal point of light but when he brings in the colors, Chess Match No. 5 becomes more stimulating. But those moments are far and few between simply due to the structure of the narrative. Bogart and scenic designer James Schuette strategically placed every piece of random furniture on the open stage. And yet with only two performers, Will Bond and Elle Lauren got trapped at times.
Chess Match No. 5 is fun for the first five minutes. Then it seems to drag on and on. Having an appreciation for SITI Company and John Cage is nearly essential for this show to be invigorating.