Review: Longing for Language: A Performance Smorgasbord

By Howard Shapiro

The subject is longing -- a theme that came to theater artists David O'Connor, Kittson O'Neill and Miriam White. So they decked out an airless room in an unused space on 21st Street in South Philadelphia, with a bed, some chairs here and there, a microphone, a wall-projection of videos with people telling you what they long for ("good Mexican food," "making use of my life," "more" and the like) and snack all around. I myself had a soda and a Snickers bar.

It's a little theatrical experiment with little theatrics, not essential but interesting and surely Fringe-worthy. We enter and for the first few minutes -- parts of the show change daily, so what I saw you might not see -- assess the room, the sign that announces "Office of Interior and Exterior ID, Open," the actors reading prepared pieces on the nature of longing, a magician (Harrison Lampert) doing tricks with cards and foam balls. 

Then comes about 35 minutes of performance, four or five little pieces, that the audience stands around to witness.  One of these, from Bi Jean Ngo, was a bittersweet bit about her mom and Viet Nam, another was a dance by Ruby MacDougall in which she was Feifferesque in her movement and look. Amanda Schoonover performed a pleasant piece about a bride's overreaching, by the local playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger, and it all ended with Lauren Feldman's playlet, The Seven Lovers of Bluehat Whistletop. All these pieces very subtly considered the idea of longing -- the theme is not pushed in your face -- and were short. The show's three creatiors call it a smorgasbord, but instead of big plates to pick from, its a selection of performance tapas. 

Longing with Language: $10. 8 p.m. Sept. 14, 15 and 16; 2 and 5 p.m. Sept. 17.