The program gives a bit of a clue, or guideline, providing some background about the roles of the Messenger and the Buffoon in theater. Part One of what if features the Messenger, "a character that arrives bearing news of the world, like a warning." This comes in the form of actor/creator Steven Epp, speaking directly to the audience, and then imagining himself as a Syrian Jew who has fled to Paris after surviving years of war in Aleppo, who then imagines himself as an 11-year girl floating on a roof in a flood in Nebraska. These two very different stories indirectly convey a warning about our world, connected by a murmuration of starlings. Steven Epp beautifully portrays both of these very different but connected humans, allowing us to imagine "what if."
Part Two brings us the comic relief of the Buffoons (aka the very funny Sarah Agnew and Nathan Keepers, both of whom also co-wrote the piece with director Dominique Serrand). But their message is no less dire, just delivered in a more light-hearted way. Dressed alike in a white tank top, grey jeans, and black shoes, with a cropped black hoodie used to create different characters (costumes by Sonya Berlovitz), these two take us through the story of everything. The origins of humans, the origins of God, the origins of humor - these two Buffoons convey it all, moving and speaking almost as one. Then they connect with Part One again, bringing us full circle back to the beginning.
|a murmuration of actors|
(rehearsal photo courtesy of MoCo)
what if officially opens this post-Thanksgiving weekend, and runs through the end of December. It's the sort of "thoughtful," "imaginative," "unique," and "meaningful" work I've come to expect from the Moving Company, and truly encompasses everything from the ridiculous to the profound.