The new production from New Paradise Laboratories, called 27, begins and ends in huge shots of haze expelled onto the stage. And it's pretty much haze all through, even without the industrial-strength mist maker.
But then, 27 is about death and some sort of purgatory -- and although things aren't quite as gruesome as they are in the middle part of Dante's The Divine Comedy, when souls are stuck in an endless world of waiting, it's just as unsettling. The show takes its title from the deaths of singers Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse, who all died at age 27.
There's not much to do when you're a dead spirit still full of youth, and 75 minutes of it surely makes that point inside a set of bare walls, a lighted star with a huge hole in it, windows that lead the dead back into the room as they are pushed by a storm always brewing in the great beyond (a cool stage effect). There's a lot of flotsam around the room. Some of it is in the form of the six actors, who don't stay still for long. To musical background provided by one of them, guitarist Alec MacLaughlin. they have their own movements, which they perform again and again.
Their smacks on tables and leaps onto walls, plodding walks and crawls and sudden wildness are the reasons to see 27, which has a plot concerning a newcomer to death but is mostly form with little content. New Paradise's artistic director, Whit MacLaughlin, is an innovator in multi-media theater, but here he depends on good old sound, light and a sort of aching physicality to get across the feeling of premature death and wasted opportunity.