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‘Stopped Bridge’ books you on a flight that might not be real
BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Like the uncertain fate of a traveler on standby, the takeaway from John Jesurun’s first production at La MaMa in a decade varies largely according to what they’ve got to offer on the particular night you decide to show up. Best, then, not to be tethered to the notion that somebody’s out to get you just because you came expecting a direct flight and ended up in a holding pattern.
Based loosely on Japanese writer Saikaku Ihara’s “floating world” tales, “Stopped Bridge of Dreams” features a revolving nightly series of playlets whose characters are caught between the past and the present, life and death, earth and sky and freedom and servitude. The only thing they seem to have in common is a stubborn refusal to achieve bliss by accepting their fate.
“We’re made up. We’re only pictures on a scroll. We’re not even born yet,” complains son Yoshi (Preston Martin) to his maybe mother Mrs. X (Black-Eyed Susan). Depending upon who you believe, and what time period it is, mom either owns a 17th century Japanese teahouse built for pleasure or an anonymous, haunted jetliner that serves as a whorehouse and way for the CIA to jettison enemies of the state into the ocean. To further complicate the narrative, Mrs. X might be dead (or maybe it’s Yoshi who’s the ghost).
“Stopped Bridge” is thoroughly obsessed with matters of destiny, obligation, identity and regret — but thankfully free of the angst and empathy a lesser playwright would ask us to feel for the damaged searchers who negotiate terms of profit and surrender as the plane circles the globe providing kicks and kinks for those who can afford it.
Morally ambiguous storytelling’s not enough for Jesurun, though. Told through text, video, music and a live internet feed, “Bridge” lets the audience eavesdrop on affairs of the heart, flesh and soul through multimedia done the right way. When son confronts mother on the stage, the scene also plays out in real time on video screens. Dangling from above, they offer all manner of artfully framed long shots and close-ups. The result is sort of like watching members of your family have an argument in the living room while a compelling soap opera on TV also demands your attention.
Through February 5, Wed.-Sat., at 7:30pm; Sun., at 2:30pm. At La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St, btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.).) For tickets ($25; $20 for students/seniors), call 212-475-7710 or at lamama.org. Visit stoppedbridgeofdreams.com.