The Sound and the Fury: Theater Review
By David Cote
The weirdest yet homiest of Elevator Repair Service’s trilogy of literature-based performances, this ravishing immersion into William Faulkner (first seen in 2008 at New York Theatre Workshop) demands patience and calmness in the midst of sensory overload. Like the piece’s developmentally disabled central character, Benjy (played by the singular Susie Sokol and, on alternate performances, by the equally compelling Aaron Landsman and Pete Simpson), you feel like this world is full of bewildering signals, but also profound beauty. This may be the most emotional show I’ve seen by ERS, longtime masters of collaging found text, dance and intricate soundscapes. The formal coolness and ironizing detachment is still there, but relaying a tale that overflows with inchoate family sadness and childhood alienation.
Typical of ERS, the performance virtuosity is amazing. Twelve wonderful actors juggle genders, ages and ethnicities, playing members of the Compson household from 1898 to 1928 in nonlinear memory fragments floating through Benjy’s head. It’s Southern Gothic via Joycean pastiche, and while director John Collins & Co. use supertitles and costume pieces to keep timelines and identities clear, you may still get lost. But here, losing your way is how you get home.
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