Mind Body Drop Away
Chez Brunswick Studio
Snapshot Review: Meta-Comedy
D.B. Frick, Reviewer
On January 3th at 8:30 pm I had the opportunity to attend The Exponential Festival at Chez Bushwick Studio located at 304 Boerum Street in Brooklyn, NY. Presented that evening was, Mind Body Drop Away, Directed by Kevin Laibson and written & performed by Shon Arieh-Lerer. Mind Body Drop Away seems to be a suggestion that the audience must drop its consciousness to truly envelope themselves into what is about to happen in front of them. This was my first time to Bushwick to see theatre. Most of my experiences in Bushwick up until this point involved me getting nickel bags of weed through a hole in a wooden window of a beaten down brownstone. Bushwick has changed a lot in the 20 years since. The industrial look of the area caters perfectly to the type of alternative theatre thrusted forth inside the buildings walls. As a side note Chez Bushwick Studio has an artist residency which allows artists 100 hours of rehearsal time and an opportunity to perform in their space.
When you first approach the building you begin to think, “Am I in the right place?”. On a dark evening the area can remind one of the film “Judgement Night” or where the gangs in “Warriors stumbled through. But once you go inside the crisp and distinct white hallways are littered with prodigious photography. As one is lead into the performance space you see a large room and parquet floor encompassed by a sea of windows draped across the facade of the building. A very inviting and cozy room. I’d move in could I afford it. Music played as the audience entered. One man is playing a paint can as a drum and a very talented saxophone player sat by the windows while their sound covered our ears and created a sensation not unlike falling down a unending tunnel of comforting notes.
I have had the honor to attend and watch Shon Arieh-Lerer perform three times this past year. I first met and was lucky enough to perform alongside Shon on The National Lampoon presents The Final Edition Podcast where he thrives as a performer and writer. Shon is also a writer for Slate.com and The New Yorker, places his political bent and comedic genius are well used.
To be honest I’m not sure how to even start or write about this presentation. It was unlike any other night of comedy I’ve ever seen. And though I laughed through the whole piece, I’m not sure I was really watching comedy. More like a lesson for life and not accepting the reality in front of you or even time as a concept. My first thought after Mind Body Drop Away was that I was going to have to increase my vocabulary in an effort to explain what happened. I haven’t done that because I am somewhat slothful. Yes, I looked up a synonym for lazy.
Shon started with a monologue about how people always notice him when he enters a room, which he did with fluid movement that made it seem like he had no skeleton at all. Shon next goes into a lesson on hypnosis which he been studying the process of for some time now. Very absorbing but went past us with little time to ingest, which I think was part of the point. He spent some time on the concept of overwhelming the audience, which he definitely did. Testing us and our understanding of what was going on around us, confusing the audience. Shon played with the audiences beliefs of what an audience is supposed to be. How we are supposed to react and act. It was interactive. It almost seemed as if we were the show for Shon at times.
In my favorite piece Shon played out a character who was separate from his own mouth. The mouth had his own consciousness apart from the character himself. The only way the mouth could be stopped from talking was by eating peanut butter, which overwhelmed Shons mouth. This was probably the piece of the show that was most like what sketch comedy audiences are used to.
Shon then played three characters, old men fighting on a porch. It was amazing how he was able to go from character to character with a fluidity like that of Michael Jackson dancing. Shon would get the audience into a clapping fight or chanting as his hypnosis lesson taught us. Show called it, “making your hands fight”.
Shon then ended the show by not ending it. He dressed up in jacket and scarf and left while the audience was sent to the windows of the second floor to see a wooden door sitting outside in the middle of an empty sidewalk. We then see Shon outside from the windows approaching the door, he knocks, then goes through it disappearing into the night and whatever was waiting on the other side of the door for him . Shon then appeared behind us in the room. Once again overwhelming his audience and disproving his point that he opened with saying everybody always notices when he enters a room. Because nothing is real and nothing is what we think it is.
If I were to coin a phrase I’d call what I saw Meta-Comedy. Comedy so smart that to truly get it I might have to watch it in slow motion then watch it backwards. I was definitely entertained. I was undoubtedly cultured and I unquestionably laughed. Shon never ended the show. But did I leave, I’m writing about it now and I’ll think about it again. Maybe Shon did hypnotize us. The audience was just expected to move along as he continued his conversations with us. I took a trip inside Shon’s mind. A mind that over the years could possibly bring comedy to a new place. He’s definitely ahead of his time, but that’s okay because time doesn’t really exist. To see more about Shon and his upcoming projects go to http://www.shoncom.com/
Running Time: 60 Minutes
For more information visit the websites of Chez Brunswick and Shoncom.
© Copyright 2018 by Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.