Nature Theater of Oklahoma, I could kiss your ten hour long verbatim musical disco soviet barbecue locked room alien abduction arses, every last one. Life and Times
, so far in four parts and on Saturday strung together into a ten hour marathon session covering the first 18 years of a subject’s life, kicked so many goals that it’s hard to know where to start.
The script for Life of Times was taken verbatim from a series of telephone conversations with a woman, asking her to tell the story of her life. Every ‘um’ and ‘ah’ is there, and for the first two parts of Life and Times, the exact details of this woman’s life is turned into a musical. But these are musicals stripped down to their barest forms. Part one had the singers in soviet-style gymnastics uniforms, dancing and singing in no relation to what is actually being said. The audience eased into the hilarious, confused stories that come when trying to recall first memories.
Part two and all the actors are dressed in colour-coded Adidas tracksuits, dancing still in a non-sequitor but slightly more interpretive way to the story of the same character in elementary school, moving on to junior high. Some of the stories take on a darker tone as she starts to take part in the world, confusion and depression sneaks in.
Part three and four are mainly spoken, and the setting is changed to the recreation of a locked room murder mystery. The actors recreated the dramatic tropes and characters of a classic mystery, while still speaking the script of the telephone conversation, the storyteller now recounting her final years of high school, her first boyfriend, drugs and alcohol.
It was by this point that everyone was slightly hysterical. We had been living and breathing this show for a little over eight hours, with even the actors present for the barbecue dinner, serving us hamburgers. Being submitted to so many hours of one woman’s speech patterns, her inflections, doubling back and recounting of key friends and relatives, made you think you were being brainwashed. This, along with the wincing recollections of your own growing pains that the script inspired you to think of, and you were really starting to space out. The ending was coming up, and it was impossible to think of how they were going to finish this. The reward the audience received for sticking by a now hypnotic storyline was a truly bizarre twist they pulled off completely ﹣ but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how.
The Life and Times marathon was a once in a lifetime experience, beautiful and convoluted and simple at the same time. There are plans to turn this into a 24 hour play, and when that happens I will be there.