Reviewed by Neal Weaver
Sacred Fools Theatre
Through July 30
Anna (Marie Fahlgren) is a dancer and choreographer who not only walks in her sleep — she also dances. She has fled from her former lover, who seems to be stalking her, to strike out on her own. She moves into a basement apartment and makes the acquaintance of her upstairs neighbor, computer geek Patrick (Zac Thomas). At first Patrick appears to be a self-appointed guardian angel, but he is not quite what he seems, and Anna’s sleepwalking takes an increasingly violent and disturbing turn.
Director Elizabeth V. Newman tells us that this play, by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn, is “a fever dream, a puzzle, a maze, a nightmare.” While it lives up to that description, what is actually happening in the story is not at all clear. Is Anna in fact surrounded by menacing, predatory men, or is she simply paranoid? We don’t know who to believe, or whether any of the characters are reliable reporters. And it doesn’t help that all the men in Anna’s life are played by Thomas. (There is also a third actor, Gary Thomas, who plays Patrick’s friend Pete; he’s never seen, though we do hear his voice.)
Newman gives the piece an appropriately surreal staging on Vanessa Montano’s intriguingly bizarre set. Fahlgren and Thomas perform with skill and verve: Thomas’s performance is especially effective because his Patrick seems so open, well-meaning and trustworthy that it’s a shocker when we begin to suspect that he’s a cynical and rapacious voyeur. Fahlgren nimbly rings the changes in a woman who is terrified because she doesn’t know what’s happening to her, and can’t trust anyone — not even herself.
Erica Gionfriddo supplies the choreography, lighting design is by Chris Conard, and sound design is by Eliot Gray Fisher.
Sacred Fools Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m ; (512) 496-5208 or www.anynightaustin.com. Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission.