Here’s my problem with Project 891’s production of Epic Proportions, recently closed (thus making this review woefully obsolete) at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy: I had to go by myself. The person I was supposed to go with ditched me the day before, and I don’t have enough real friends to have been able to find a replacement to go with me. I “know” plenty of people in Chicago, but in reality I am that geek alone in the corner of a room full of 2.8 million cool kids. I usually hang out with my roommates. Why didn’t I just take one of them? Because they’re both actors and they’re both in shows right now. One of them is playing James Dean in a show about Marlon Brando. We already saw that one. The other roommate is in this show. This show. And I really couldn’t ask him to sit next to me in the audience in between his scenes, now, could I?
So I went by myself. I put on my pretend leather jacket by myself and put on my gray skinny jeans by myself and took the train by myself and transferred to the bus by myself and got my ticket by myself and sat awkwardly in the back of the theatre by myself. I know all this probably doesn’t seem so bad. What’s wrong with going out by yourself? Haven’t you ever gone to a movie in the afternoon alone? Isn’t it fun to just disappear from the world every once in a while? Well, sure. But not at night. Because at night is when all the bad things happen that your parents warned you about. At night you can get mugged, beaten up, raped, kidnapped, even killed. And if you’re ever about to die, it’s nice to have company.
But seriously. If I hadn’t gone to the theatre alone, I wouldn’t have had to sit next to a bunch of cackling middle-aged women who snuck in miniature bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel and probably never go to the theatre at all unless someone they know is in it, which I learned was actually the case this time. Seriously, these women with their scarves and wine laughed at the stupidest things, whispered–no, talked, they didn’t even have the courtesy to not use their vocal chords–during the whole show, and for some reason clapped at the end of every scene. What’s with them? Okay, honestly, that last part about the clapping, it wasn’t totally their fault. If the lights hadn’t gone to total black in between every scene, the audience probably wouldn’t have felt as compelled to clap all the goddamn time, but whatever. And the lady right next to me was so delirious with laughter and drink that she kept swerving over into my personal space. As though, because I’m so skinny, how could I possibly need my whole chair?
Now that I think of it, I had plenty of opportunities to move to a different seat. Hell, I was like the second person to show up, I could’ve sat anywhere. But I chose the far back corner of the theatre, because I don’t really like sitting in the middle, let alone front and center. When those chirping wino soccer moms all sat right next to me, though, I should’ve moved. At first I thought it was fine, but by the time it occurred to me that maybe I ought to move, they started the opening video sequence, I froze. Okay, this was awkward, because they didn’t turn the lights down. Why wouldn’t they do that? They do that when you go to the movie theatre, because it helps you pay attention better and the image looks better. But no, they wanted to keep the lights up just in case more people came in, I suppose. But no one did. I still should’ve moved, but I didn’t, because then everyone would have stopped watching the video and looked at me instead, because the lights were still on! And then I would’ve sat back down knowing that I’d just ruined the whole play for the whole rest of the audience before it even started. I would’ve looked like a tool. When, in fact, they were the tools. Them.
The play itself was pretty good, I guess. It was funny. It made me laugh. I liked when they beat each other up like pro wrestlers even though it was the 1930s. Oh, shit, I should say what it was about. So, there’s this movie being made in the desert, sort of a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic, hence the title Epic Proportions. And one of the extras wants to be a real movie star, but it’s his brother who gets noticed instead, and nobody knows what they’re doing, and the director just watches porn in his pyramid all by himself, and the brothers fight over the love of the assistant director in this really old-fashioned and misogynistic way, and there are some lazy hints that maybe the play is about slavery, or big budget escapist movies, or economic strife, but nobody really gives enough of a shit to develop any of those ideas. But hey, it at least ran 80 minutes without an intermission, so that’s good. My roommate was good, he was funny. And my other roommate, even though he’s in that other show, he still did the fight choreography for this show, and that was pretty good.
But then after the show, after the part where the audience is actually supposed to clap, I fell off the edge of the audience riser by accident because I didn’t know there wasn’t a step in between the riser and the ground. I have to think, if I wasn’t by myself, that wouldn’t have happened. God, I need more friends.