Pan Pan Theatre
The Crumb Trail
Wednesday, September 9th 8:30 P.M.
Winningstad Theatre (The Hollywood Squares)
By Eve Connell
The intro segment to The Crumb Trail was quite a tease: Sharp banter! Linguistic play! Snarky, subtle challenges to one’s identity! A modern-day tweaking of a fable or two! I was ready for one wild ride. Directly connecting with the audience was a great ploy to draw us in, as was engaging us in baking bread, but swiftly that connection was broken or lost or tripped over and muddled up with unnecessary antics.
Far too early in the performance, all the usual suspects reared their ugly heads: rape, incest, murder, angst, anger, disillusionment. These themes (yawn!) combined with less-than-stellar musical interludes, nonsensical lyrics, and seriously lacking OHP (overhead projection) skills all made me laugh, but not for the reasons Pan Pan might have anticipated.
A few compelling, artistic moments do stand out in my mind’s eye: the bread bomb machine, busy at work, rattling and sloshing full wine glasses that shared the table space; YouTube clips – especially our fave crazy Peanuts dance scene to Heyya!; creative AV use – not the elementary school overhead projector images, but the use of the video feature during the Skype sex call scene to draw us into a moment within a heavy subcontext; all characters hanging from the bar at the beginning and end of the piece showing that we’ve come full circle.
But what did we come full circle to, exactly? As I mentioned lot of unnecessary, banal elements got in my way: painting the floor white; dancing like freaks; the pantyhose scene; the band sets; the scary (yikes!) blood on the face. Each were distracting in their own right and took away from the potential power of the piece.
My hope was that the Irish might do it differently. That they might offer something more compelling and introspective. Sigh. The same recycled themes offering neither new insights nor critical perspectives. “Replete with existential uncertainties”? The only existential uncertainty I had was the constant, nagging question: why was I there?