The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Anon(ymous)
Organization Falcon's Eye Theatre
Date(s) of show November 7-23, 2014
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb

In just about every Falcon’s Eye Theatre production that I’ve attended over the past few years, I’ve seen something that I’ve never seen before.  Anon(ymous) was no exception.  In the preliminaries (note the exits, turn off your cell phone, etc.) that were broadcast before the show started, the speaker said, “We hope this experience will be unlike any you’ve had before.”  So true.

In a series of vignettes, loosely reminiscent of the wanderings of Odysseus in Homer’s  Odyssey, the main character, who usually gives his name as “Nobody,” but is listed in the playbill as “Anon,” wanders through America searching for his identity and his mother.  There is heavy-handed social satire here.  The mother, a ship-wrecked immigrant has found work in a sweatshop presided over by a manipulative, abusive manager and visited by a “senator” with a patronizing wife.  Among his adventures, Anon encounters a possessive, wealthy beach bunny; then a sympathetic traveling companion with whom he hops a freight train; then a one-eyed sausage maker who kills the companion to make sausage of him; then a family who run an Indian restaurant and help him find himself and his mother.  At points in the journey, he is inspired and guided by a spirit.  There is also a Greek chorus of 15 or more people who comment enigmatically on the action or who occasionally are part of it.

I couldn’t help but be impressed by the acting.  Many of the parts are caricatures of social types, but they are outrageous and consistent enough to be entertaining.  Some other parts, especially those of Anon played by Ethan Fox and his mother played by Afton Parker, are credible and played with sensitivity, keeping the play grounded in a recognizable reality.  There is good action, too, including a well-choreographed fight scene, and a lot of humor that gave me relief from my persistent wondering what all this really meant.

The highlight of the show for me, though, were the technical effects, including some very subtle ones:  for example, in the scene of the Indian restaurant, I could swear that I smelled the food they were making.  The principal effects, though, are projections.  There are two sets of semi-transparent white curtains in strips about four feet wide.  These allow actors to move through them with ease.  They also display projected videos that are beautifully and creatively melded with the live action:  you see the video of a person walking toward you, and then the real person emerges from the curtain.  These projections are used so frequently and in so many ways throughout the show that it really amounts to a rich, multi-media experience.

As I’ve noted, I spent most of this show trying to figure out what it’s about.  There is clearly the satire on some of the worst aspects of American society.  There is also a sympathetic treatment of the plight of the immigrant.  But the symbolic gestures and staging are ambiguous, and don’t give obvious answers to the nebulous questions that are raised.  One line at the end particularly drew my attention:  “Your life is made up of bits and pieces.”  That’s what the show was for me:  a rush of thought-provoking bits and pieces that made for a unique evening of theater.

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