‘Hemispheric Dysfunctionalism & the Cortical Titanic’ at Capital Fringe by Cyle Durkee

I scarcely know where to begin.

Hemispheric Dysfunctionalism & the Cortical Titanic moves through the treacherous waters of involved philosophical musings like the Titanic maneuvered through the north Atlantic (this thought is not going where you think it is {wait for it}).

Scott Sedar, Patrick Joy, Keith Waters, Megan Dominy, Bethany Michel, Keith Irby, Darius Tyrus Epps, Jefferson Farber, Ian LeValley, Philip L. McLeod, and Misty Demory. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Smoothly at first, the show sails along with some theatrical beauty (Ian LeValley is quite intense and precise as the Captain {his last minutes of life are played at the start of the show}), musical intrigue (Katharina Acosta and Rachel Rollins sang some lovely harmonies {though the actual words were lost at times [and this is show where that’s very dangerous]}), and light philosophy (keep waiting).

The introduction of the characters as they enter the ship (each character on the ship seems to be a representation of one aspect of the Captain’s personality/psyche) is quite stately and well-played (keep waiting) And then we get to the first diatribe. Cue scraping sound of iceberg against hull (still not going where you think it is {oh…here’s what you’ve been waiting for}) as the ideas presented start to scrape open your brain (leaving your mind exposed and ready for the massive amount of data you are about to be presented with).

OMG!!! If you like to learn, if you have a brain in your head, if you like a piece of art that moves through heart, soul, and mind (mind is forgotten in most cases as many plays spoon feed you every single idea that you could possibly need to flesh out the themes of the play without giving you a chance to use your imagination at all), then this is a show that you should jump at.

Now, the caveat: Don’t go to this play expecting to understand all of it (or even most of it). The playwright (Michael Merino) is smarter than you (and he proves it in every scene). He does not pull any punches. It is catch as catch can in this race to fill you with an entirely new way of identifying yourself in reference to your surroundings, history, molecular makeup, and social entanglements. You will catch pieces here and there and put them together as an individual. You will be presented with an extraordinary amount of information, but no agenda. You must decide how to use what you are given.

Again, OMG!! What a delight that I am trusted to make my own decisions about what to do with the information given to me.

The performances are quite lovely, but for me there were a few standouts. Bethany Michel is hilarious (and that is seriously needed in a play this dense). She presents graduate level ideas with a flair and an ease that made you feel totally comfortable absorbing them. Misty Demory’s seemingly backward society lady becomes draconic in her ability to rend the arguments of her card partners to petty inanities as she discusses what would truly liberate women. And Jefferson Farber is a joy to watch as he skewers the other characters with pointed commentary.

The major issue that I have with the show is that the diction of the singers was, unfortunately, not good and because I couldn’t understand what they were singing – it took away from my enjoyment of the show and my ability to understand all of it.

I am still thinking about the concepts presented and whether I agree or disagree with them. That’s what I love about a good show. It has the ability to keep me thinking and feeling long after I’ve left the theater.

Hemispheric Dysfunctionalism & the Cortical Titanic has done its job very well. It’s a piece of art that affected me intensely and actually altered my view of some small piece of the world. Take this journey!

Darius Tyrus Epps, Jefferson Farber, Scott Sedar, Patrick  Joy, Keith Irby and  Megan Dominy. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Hemispheric Dysfunctionalism & the Cortical Titanic is playing through October 28, 2012 at The Shop at Fort Fringe – 607 NY Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.


Shawn Nelson’s preview of Hemispheric Dysfunctionalism & the Cortical Titanic.


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