Theatre Gigante Explores the Cosmos in ‘The Way Things Go’
Theatre Gigante’s exploration of life begins by talking about death. Several members of the cast connect with the audience, explaining that they can all be experts on the subject of living and dying. Originally written by Mark Anderson as a monologue for one, Isabelle Kralj adapted and directed the piece for a group of performers, attempting to infuse diversity with young and old, male and female. The piece has become an extended, experimental prose poem spoken and sung by a chorus of 10 voices.
Theatre Gigante took Alverno’s sprawling Pitman Theatre and condensed it, placing the audience onstage with the performers in a cozy, focused use of space. The minimal, clean stage serves the cast well, with just enough chairs and microphones to give them total command of the room. The actors spend 80 minutes exploring different modes of moving through the space as they describe how humans move through life. Everyday objects—a bicycle, badminton racquets, flashlights—become tools to measure both the strangeness and mediocrity of living. The cast members are masterful in their movement; perfectly in sync, they go from embodying a group therapy session to Sir Isaac Newton’s cradle to the night sky. It is a philosophy class at the circus.
Frank Pahl’s original songs and strings, helped along by Kat Grunert and Jordan Mackin’s lovely voices and cellist Ben Yela, add a folky, quirky charm that infuses the piece with warmth and a sense of down-to-earth humanity that is not found in the detached, clinical speech delivered by the actors.
The piece is billed as “a refreshing and hopeful look at the world,” though it is shot through with strains of pessimism and loneliness. Theatre Gigante’s composite of movement, song and speech endeavors to provide a platform to engage in a conversation about “you-ness” and tackle no less than the meaning of life.
Through April 29 at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre, 3431 South 39th St. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit giganteway.brownpapertickets.com.