A rose of a show is up at The Tank, Wood Calls Out To Wood, written by Corinne Donly and directed by Sarah Hughes. A work of such generous inquiry and soft choices is a blessing to patient spirits. The complicated profundity of it will wash over you not at any moment in the theater, but on reflection, as the synchronicity and complicity of your own relationship to nature, phenomenal narrative, and destiny dawns on you to uncover the latent, insouciant sangfroid that was always there -- that can’t help but be there, wherever and whoever and whyever you are.
This text. The script, an adaptation of Hieronymus Bosch's 15th-century triptych "The Garden of Earthly Delights," has a breathing pattern that is remarkably chill and thoughtful, easy to follow yet constantly reinventing. Though these are very much words that come together to make strong ideas, in space and time they speak to their more subtle and potent touches. Donly writes animal sounds to be words and writes words to act as action; writes active memory and dual presence and gives voice not to feeling but to transformation, which is a type of feeling come to think of it. It is an art that can only be done in the theater, this expression. It’s very wonderful to think about.
Donly and Hughes create a performance space that’s equal parts soundscape and a nebulous approximation of all kinds of nature. The design dangles just enough to be sylvan, sparkles just enough to suggest other dimensions or outer space; then the ensemble fills the room with the audial expressions of inquiry. The performers are tasked with conveying complex ideas in a series of monologues, dialogues, and performance texts concerned with, goodness, all the things that float into the mind and out again? Kissing and living and the galaxy? Losing an apartment and adopting a dog and being wood as a tree then as a frame? The work's synchronicity, of movement and language and design, suggests something about our own complicity with phenomena, a partner in our journey, and those ideas, later in reflection, reap benefits -- lessons like “you’re ok,” “let’s love this,” “can you even imagine,” “be brave.”
Don’t trifle: Donly’s language, imagery, and ideas are far more sophisticated than whatever summary I could ever approach. And Hughes' sensitive production of them just hits every note right, the soft yet firm grasp over a production every great script deserves. The script speaks to the just insane synchronicity of life, and Hughes makes it happen onstage with a humor that makes you smarter, fills you with the concept. I would also be particularly remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the sensitivity of Alejandro Fajardo on the lights and John Gasper on sound. They allow for the shades of Donly’s script to reveal themselves with a pleasant yet solid push in the right direction, always towards an inquisitive and relaxed yet charged place.
It is so wonderful how this piece can live so peacefully yet have such charged dimensions. The horizon of the ideas here chase the landscape, but unlike most excellent work, there’s only one resting place, where the trials of your life see themselves more simply. It is a script of wonder, so wonder with it. It is a production of detail, empathy, and intelligence, so go see it. Wood Calls Out To Wood is a beautiful expansion, and if you breathe with it, it may expand your capacity for easy happiness.