Theater Review: bobrauschenbergamerica
by Lyle Zimskind for LAist"Why does a man in a chicken suit cross the stage?" is not the only existential inquiry tackled by Charles Mee’s challenging but rewarding theater piece bobrauschenbergamerica. There’s also: "Does man have the power to forgive himself?" "What’s it like to swim in a giant martini?" "Do men and women deceive each other or themselves when they fall in love?" And, of course, "Did somebody make a mistake with the slide projector before the show started tonight?"
A series of 43 somewhat-related scenes collectively inspired by the “Combines” of genre-bending 20th-century collagist Robert Rauschenberg, bobrauschenbergamerica is Mee’s idea of what the master would have produced if he himself “had been a theater maker instead of a visual artist.” And like these Combines, the play initially greets its audience with a giddily disorienting juxtaposition of visual cues and gestures. Indeed, that slide projector presentation accompanying the play’s opening monologue so vexed the couple sitting next to me that they started talking back to the stage for a moment and clearly never recovered their equilibrium over the ensuing hour and a half.