Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: A Little Bit of Heaven & Hell

By Kaila M. Stokes

Hit the Body Alarm is an avant-garde look at one person’s perception of heaven, hell, and the in-between. As the audience assumes their seats the actress, Winsome Brown, is at the microphone singing, creating sound bites, and making other weird noises that include metal on metal and chewing food. The sound mixer, also on stage, smashed all the sounds together to create noisy chaos. Winsome Brown was incredibly talented with accents, foreign languages, and has a certain ease standing on stage looking into the eyes of her audience. It takes an unteachable confidence that comes from years of performing to be able to portray that.
Then the show began. Huge amounts of plastic tarp were used as the set. What was interesting was that the beginning of the show is “Satan’s Fall From Heaven To Hell.” The actress took her place behind the tarp with wings on and was suspended by a rope & hook. Using lighting, the sound effects created from earlier, and voice over; the audience was swept into a world of dark mysterious confusion. You could see her shadow through the tarp creating an effect of her falling through clouds while the voice narrated the story of Satan’s fall. The stage managers, also on stage, moved the plastic from one position to another as scenes transitioned. Disappointingly that was the only time the tarp was used in an interesting manner pertaining to the text.  The next five parts of this mysterious play included: Hit the Body Alarm, Satan Addresses the Fallen Angels, Elaine, Satan Arrives on Earth, and Eve’s Dream.
photo by Theo Cote
It was hard to follow exactly what was happening since the actress was in and out of roles that did not seem to tie into one another. The ideas were there, but it landed differently. The set should have been used more. The idea was unique and original with the plastic – it metaphorical fit so well. The narration should have been shorter and less theoretical. The narrator should be the one to cut through the smoke & fog to produce the facts. The stories themselves, felt long and winded. It would have been nice if the stories tied together more. The scenes were only identifiable by what was written in the program.  An audience member shouldn’t have to look at a program to figure out what is going on.
The artistry of having the stage managers and sound mixer on stage was appreciated. It was a true testament of how much the “behind the scenes” work actually means for the show being performed. Hit the Body Alarm is not for everyone. Windsome Brown is undoubtedly a seasoned artist. Like many forms of art, people can interpret as they will, but she clearly stays true to herself. If you like avant-garde and would like to see a portrayal of heaven to hell and the in-between then head to The Performing Garage.