Deborah Pearson’s The Future Show is a love/hate affair.
After writing this theatre review, I will send it to the Editor, Kathleen, who will analyze it and make corrections. She will send it back to me to be finalized. As my cursor makes virtual contact with the “Publish” button, I will begin to worry what the artist, Deborah, will think of my review. Will she even read it? Does anyone read this? Someone will, and they will judge whether or not to go to her remaining performances this week.
This is the narrative, essentially, of The Future Show, created by Deborah Pearson. I could go on and on, imagining all the future steps of my life. I know that if I did, the picture would be much more clear immediately than one year from now, or ten years, or a lifetime. I think I could riff for probably about 10,000 words and it would be a compelling exercise. But would it make a compelling piece? I think it could be fantastic, beautiful, transpersonal, and it should be.
Pearson’s work is cumulative. The stage is merely a small table, glass of water, and large office binder which holds the current script and the past script, spanning back five years. The final pages are less frequently rewritten than those ones which become obsolete with the passing of each day. She reads through those end pages until the final page: Death. It may symbolize that space where human consciousness resides, in the present with knowledge of the past and of the future.
Pearson delivered a flat performance, intentionally so, as her voice maintained a range close to monotone. So I am not judging when I say that, but I want to ask, why? She admits early on that she hopes the stage will make her invisible. I just think that the performance would work best if she were thoroughly transparent.
She predicts that she’ll be in a hotel with an ex who has a bag and in the bag, there’s a drug that neither have taken before, and that she will feel the forward momentum of her life for a moment. This managed to draw me into her point of view. It spoke to me, but it was fleeting. She maintained the course of the page from there on. There appears to be no extemporaneous performer, just the page, as though it were a report or a deposition.
She admits too, that this show “might be boring” and repeats this phrase a few times. I again wonder if that is something she simply accepts without justification. But then I consider how the audience responded, and how I felt like we all kind of accepted it. I overheard others who also didn’t know what the show was going to be. For me, this was true despite reading the press release.
Actually, she got quite a few laughs with her dry, and sometimes dark, humor. And it seemed like there was always someone relating to her self-observations — judging from murmurs in the crowd — and like an interchanging system, we all managed to stay piqued, even if our minds drifted off individually. The show is about one hour. I walked away feeling okay, even though I argued with her dramatic choices.
Where I think she does break through is in her ambivalence to live in the present. The show demonstrates that clearly, the way our anxieties get to us, the way the cycles continue playing out even though we can predict them. Life is a balance of love and hate, our ambitions and stressors constantly dragging along like baggage on the quest to experience pure joy.
Tonight’s show, and tomorrow’s show, and the one after that will be a little different, so this review has already slipped into the irrelevant past, and I thank you for joining us there.
The Future Show will continue to run through Sunday at Artists Repertory Theatre.