UHR is a play about disconnection and as such, it is a play about the world in which we live. A world where television and internet have taken the place of real human contact and you can end a conversation with a click of a button. A world where emotional and physical expression has been short circuited to protect us from rejection, vulnerability and the woes of love. We live in our heads. We spend our days thinking and then shut off our brains with an Ipod while working out our bodies at the gym. The result: a human being that is incomplete, not able to work the physical, emotional, imaginative, intellectual, spiritual and energetic centers of the body simultaneously. The result: people who find fantasy more thrilling than reality. A consumerist society whose only genuine desire is having more; more food, more cars, more clothes, more alcohol and more exciting fetishes to get turned on. We are never satiated. Our last experience is never enough the second time. The result: the beautiful simplicity of human touch has lost its excitement as has the moving beauty of a sunset or a work of art. It is violent and painful. Hence, the characters of the play: a gay man who needs to get blown by strangers to get turned on, a woman unable to have orgasms and trapped by the media’s idea of the perfect body, and a serial killer: the ultimate manifestation of the pain of a desensitized body trying to feel something. Of course it makes sense in this jagged world that the figure of total empathy would be Benita, an archetypal Mary Magdalene in the form of a dominatrix and clairvoyant, who transcends not only the reality of the play but the connection between the actors and the audience; chorus, goddess, mother. This play is commentary. It is not a judgment. It is reaching out for help.
TV is so important in this play that I have made it a character with which the others interact. I have an on-stage television set that the characters turn on and off and react to. For example, Candy, who is constantly reading books about female orgasm and has bodily and sexual issues is affected by the media’s portrayal of women, sexuality and food as she flips through excerpts of SEX AND THE CITY, Fast food commercials, and depictions of women’s bodies. David watches violent TV shows mindlessly and then switches the TV off whenever his own show comes on. Kane is obsessed with David’s show. There are also two offstage screens that depict fantasy versions of the same footage as well as the inner workings of the character’s minds. For example, we shot a jewellery commercial/snuff film, inspired by Helmut Newton's work. The TV version of the commercial depicts an image of a woman's profile with a man's hand on her earrings, an image of her face in ecstasy and then the slogan: “Alexandria Jewellers: to die for” all set to Vivaldi's "Summer". At the end of the play on the two external screens we show an unedited version of the commercial in which the music cuts off and the camera keeps shooting as the cameraman walks away. This reveals that the woman wearing the earrings is actually dead and that the footage was taken by the killer. There are also photos taken from an episode we shot of David McMillan's show (a take-off of “DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH”) with a fantasy segment in which Kane becomes a character, kisses David and is mocked and shoved into a locker with the "F" slur written on it. We have a home video of Bernie, David, Dana and Candy and numerous photos including Kama Sutra poses, torture scenes and simple footage from a run down building depicting images such as an abandoned public woman's bathroom in ruins: a great metaphor for the inside of Bernie's mind.
In this production we are recycling props. The futon is transformed and ultimately dismantled completely. In the dim light after Bernie shoots himself the mattress is folded and carried by two characters resembling pall bearers to mimic a funeral procession and the futon is restored for the final scene. The characters are onstage most of the time, either as themselves or as neutral characters who create images and metaphors in a kind of stream-of-consciousness flow of highly disciplined movement. As a theme, each actor has a dark ski mask which, when they pull it over their heads, allows them to look simultaneously like a stereotypical serial killer, an executioner, a participant in an S & M scene, and simply a character that is not themselves.