New Stage Collective and Director Alan Patrick Kenny have brightened Cincinnati’s winterscape with a loud, lively, mixed-media production of Dead City that’s a little like watching fireworks. Explosions of words, thoughts, lights, sounds and images surge into view, glitter for a moment and then fade to black, readying the stage for the next explosion. It can be argued that both script and production work too hard, trying too frantically to sizzle and amaze. It also can be argued that they’re just exuberant.
Borrowing structure from James Joyce’s Ulysses, Callaghan awakens thirty-something Samantha Blossom (a smart, skillful Beth Harris) with news that her husband (Ken Early) is having an affair, then sends her on a careening, daylong chase through offices, hospitals, sleek stores, sleeker spas and trendy nightclubs — seeking truths (like Joyce’s Bloom) or at least a few comforting fictions.
Poets, waiters, friends, clerks, doctors, patients and street people speed and impede her search. Alphabetically, and of equally high energy, they are: Aretta Baumgartner, Cary Davenport, Hannah Dowdy, Margaret-Ellen Jeffreys, Michael Monks and Alison Vodnoy.
Blossom’s chase around Manhattan is nimbly choreographed (especially the lightning set changes) and lit with dazzle (Sara Watson). Live action is supported with bursts of video imagery (Paul Lieber) and an excellent soundscapes (Chris Guthrie).
Dead City continues at the New Stage Collective Thursday-Sunday through Feb. 22.