"The Unseen" at Promethean Theatre: An Intense Swan Song From a Great Theater Company
Sadly, The Unseen is the last show we'll see from Davie's hard-working Promethean Theatre Company, which cited fundraising woes in its death-knell announcement last month. But what a piece to end on. In Craig Wright's smart, philosophical, paranoid drama, two men (Andrew Wind and Antonio Amadeo) — broken in body but not in mind — live in brick-enclosed squalor in the bowels of a prison, tortured and raped for unknown crimes for the past 11 years. In separate cells, they cannot see each other, but they spend their days playing brain games, flexing their intellectual muscles, deciphering complicated patterns from their barren surroundings, and planning escapes. They are visited occasionally by a brutal yet sympathetic guard, in a standout performance by a colossal Alex Alvarez that reverberates with every vocal explosion. But the production design is the most marvelous triumph. Soundman Matt Corey's insidious clangor of buzzers, beeps, drills, and leaky faucets establishes an atmosphere of interminability, and with bloody gashes and dirt-caked faces and feet, Wind and Amadeo are broken-down, barely functioning jalopies. Written in 2009, The Unseen resounds even more today, given the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. The play is a chilling validation of internet doom prophets' secret-prison conspiracy theories and a meditation on the elaborate fictions we concoct to stay sane in an insane world. In director Margaret Ledford's hands, The Unseen is absurdly comic, oppressively dark, and even physically sickening — a swan song you won't soon forget.
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