What's it about?
Shades focuses on the life of a family and friends deeply affected by past wars. As the story unfolds, the characters come to grips with the many ways war has affected them, both physically and mentally.
What'd I experience?
It was cold, cold, cold. The toughest part about going to a small theater in the West Village is that the train was 10 minutes away from the theater at best. It was bliss to just arrive. The space itself was unassuming, but the chairs were extra comfortable!
This show made me uncomfortable, and maybe not in a good way. Some shows challenge perceptions, make a person think more critically about an issue. During the first act, I thought that was what I was getting - but then I suddenly was flipped into something completely different.
I was surprised by how politically biased the show wound up being. The first act was tame enough. I found myself identifying with the characters positions and personalities. I liked that even though there was clearly tension, it felt level. I didn't favor one character over another or anything like that. To me, it felt like something you might experience with extended family. I was engrossed, the back and forth of the characters kept me on my toes. I learned something new about their personalities, their histories, and that made me pay greater attention.
But while my hope was that this play’s message would be one of tolerance of different viewpoints, it instead was about one side “seeing the light”. I lost that feeling of connection to the characters and to the story.
I was a political science major, so I will follow political news every day for the rest of my life. I like political theatre, but this was more like an angry Facebook wall post in the second half, than a moderated discussion. And I dunno, maybe that's some people's cup of tea. Personally, I've definitely had enough of Facebook politics for this lifetime.
And I don't know, perhaps today's turbulent political climate played a role in this, but I really was confused. I lost focus during some scenes. I cringed when there were over-the-top attempts at shock value. ALSO, a bunch of story lines just didn't have closure... like, one character has children who aren't even given actors to play them. They're constantly mentioned (Ben and Aaron were their names, I think...) but never seen.
I kept thinking about what the role of politics in theater should be at the end of the show (and right after). People say that theater should stay out of politics, or that the theater must bring light to marginalized or controversial political issues. While I don’t want to harp on it too much, I think this play made me question where I stand on this spectrum. I guess I should give it credit for that - I'm usually not thinking about that after a show. While Shades seemed to care more about making a political statement than telling a political story, I feel like the overtly political messaging just tuned me off. Does that make me a bad millennial?
Want to see it?
$19 (thru TDF Membership)
@Cherry Lane Theatre
thru Dec. 17