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A CurtainUp Review
Once and For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen (Under theRadar Festival)

Are you my ex? —stated to the audience, each scene
Once and for all. . .
A scene from Once and For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are
(Photo: Phile Deprez )
That strange life phase in between adulthood and childhood is of constant interest to us, no matter what our age. From Gossip Girl to Twilight, the age of adolescence is endlessly fascinating— and relatable. And the concept of Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen is that no one's better to portray this in-between time than adolescents themselves, and in their own words and actions.

The framework of this hour-long piece is not a story, and in fact most words are recited in fits and starts — all at once by numerous cast members. Thirteen chairs of varying size and shape are lined up across the stage's middle. One at a time, the cast members come out and take a seat. They are ambiguously waiting, and the piece happens during this waiting period. The performers become increasingly restless as they wait — flirting, chatting, playing . The group members gain momentum with the chaos, until an outside force interrupts; in the first instance, it's a bell. This scene is repeated, over and over, but in various iterations. One time the group members "dance" their parts, another time they all "speak" their actions. Each variation is revealing, both of the specific character, and the general predicament that is adolescence.

Once And For All . . . is a simple concept that is astute and entertaining. There is never a lack of action to watch onstage. It is often challenging to know where to focus. Do you watch for the subtle changes and fluctuations in each of the repeated interactions, or begin anew with each scene and each new clique?

Some make their mark by being loud and running around . . . some write on the floor. . . some brood quietly. . . still more purposefully interrupt their peers, knocking over games, or sneaking up to flirt. These teens are not playing fictional characters so much as they are playing fantasy versions of themselves, and here perhaps, is where the show's revelations lie. If teens are able to play their fantasy teens, who will they be? Most touching of all, these onstage characterss are filled with — possibility. Their hopes and dreams are endless, and the energy is catching.

Don't have a teen to bring? Don't worry. Perhaps the show's message is even more affecting for those of us who are beyond our adolescent years (and those younger, well, maybe they should wait).

This is one of 20 production part of this year's Under the Radar Festival. Unlike this one hour show, the first production, a multimedia adaptation of John Cassvetes' film Husbands clocked in at a hefty three hours (review). One that has been a big hit with Curtainup critics in its previous incarnations is Chekhov Lizardbrain when it played in Philadelphia and in a previous incarnation Off-Broadway. To see what's still available before the Festival ends, see the Public Theater's website:

Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen
Conceived and Designed by Alexander Devriendt, Joeri Smet & the cast
Directed by Alexander Devriendt
Cast: CharlotteDe Bruyne, Edith De Bruyne, Febe De Geest, Aaron De Keyzer, Christophe De Poorter, Edouard Devriendt, Dina Dooreman, Nana Esi Mensah, Ian Ghysels, Fee Roels, Koba Ryckewaert, Elies Van Renterghem, Verona Verbakel and Nathalie Verbeke
Sets and Costumes: Sophie De Somere
Sound: Stijn Degezelle
Lighting: Jeroen Doise
Stage Manager: Mary-Susan Gregson
Part of the Under the Radar Festival at New Victory Theater at the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street
646 223 3010,
From 01/7/10; closing 01/17/10
Thursday - Saturday @ 730pm, Saturday at 2pm, Sunday at 3pm.
Running time: 65 minutes Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on January 9, 2010 performance
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