Playwright Colby Day and director Andrew J. Scoville, along with the cast and crew of Kitchen Sink Experiment(s), are inviting us over for dinner...and breakfast the next morning...and all the domestic distress in between. This site-specific voyeur drama from Crashbox Theater Company asks some of the most existentially grueling questions in the book: Who are we in our natural habitats? When are we really ourselves?
The play, performed in an apartment off of the Jefferson "L" stop, begins long before one enters the performance space, on the street. Waiting outside of our fictional couple’s apartment stirred up a small bit of nervousness in this reviewer, who felt rather like a less cool Myrtle-Wyckoff outsider showing up early to a party she was invited to as an afterthought. A sign on the doorway thanks you, “the observer,” for partaking in the night’s experiment. A “representative” gathers you from the front steps of this very normal apartment building and sends you navigating the sleek, narrow white hallways of a stranger’s building; after you've had a chance to sip on an IPA or two, the play begins.
Brian (Matthew K. Davis) and Simone (Lena Hudson) are, as far as young couples in trendy neighborhoods go, as normal as they come. In need of some spending money (because this is New York and who amongst us isn’t?) the couple consents to participate in a study by a Scientist (Rachel Lin) who wordlessly records their household behavior for a full week.
At the start of the play, the audience is already consenting to a contract not unlike our unfortunate couple’s. We, the audience, have come to observe people like ourselves being themselves. Even in a setting as intimate as this small and welcoming loft, amongst soft lamp lights and shelves of old books, one feels unnerved, put on the inner fray of someone’s personal life like a nosy neighbor’s fantasy realized. The Scientist becomes a welcome presence in the room: she observes with us. This is to the disdain of Brian and Simone, who both seek something from her, answers to lofty, existential questions that she must often remind them she was never sent there to provide. As the couple descends further into self-loathing and doubt about who they really are (both separate and together), the one room apartment grows even smaller.
All experiments ask questions, and Colby Day’s Kitchen Sink Experiment(s) asks plenty of good ones. Often times reality is the hardest world to establish, but our couple, played by Hudson and Davis, really goes out of their way to make us feel at home whether we like it or not. The Scientist, Rachel Lin, maintains a good bit of intrigue about her while struggling to keep her own humanity out of her research. All in all, a good play for anyone who’s ever thought that being yourself might be the hardest thing you could possibly strive to do.