Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: MESS by Kirsten Vangsness at the Theatre of NOTE

MESS is written by and stars Kirsten Vangsness

Kirsten Vangsness describes her one-woman production MESS as "sort of based on a 'TED Talk' called 'Making Sense of a Visible Quantum Object' by Aaron O'Connell".  I'm not much of an expert on quantum-anything, so I can't really tell you how much spiffy science is in "sort of", but what I can tell you is that Vangsness' MESS is smart, funny, and inspiring - the kind of art that makes you see the world a little differently in the end.

We often get caught up in time as a linear concept - the past behind us, the attention-seeking present, the murky and hopeful future - but Vangsness draws our attention to how that's not quite true.  As we move forward, how we perceive and value our experiences often shifts:  who we are and were, who we want to be, our monsters and our kittens.  As I was watching MESS, I kept on thinking about my favorite lines from my favorite William Blake poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence."

There's a tension to time as as a line - as it pulls and unwinds - leading us forward and pushing us back.  Vangsness draws this tension to the forefront, bringing us - literally at times - into a vat of memories.  She is sometimes a child, sometimes a teenager, sometimes reflecting at the end of the timeline - all times the experience is total, mesmerizing, and keeping you guessing what's next.  After all, in a show like this, we're not quite sure where and when "next" is going to take us.  

Kirsten Vangsness is performing MESS is at the Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood.  This weekend's shows (November 2nd and 3rd) are sold out, but a new performance date on Sunday, November 10th has just opened up.  Profits from ticket sales will help support Theatre of NOTE's upcoming production The Invisible Play and one of ExperienceLA's favorite causes Alex's Lemonade Stand

-Charity Tran, Editor

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