by Sam Blodgett
There is a point where mixed media, lots of revealed skin, and thematic explorations of identity and consumerism live in harmony. At experimental theater collective Factory 449’s latest performance: the world premiere of Magnificent Waste. The show, performed at the Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint, is an in-your-face spectacle whose strong acting performances and extensive use of multimedia leave you wondering how 75 minutes passed that quickly.
Magnificent Waste presents a biting criticism of a superficial society that thrives on excess and pleasure. It also investigates the relationship between a culture of excess, objectification of the human body, and art—the plot revolves around an art piece containing a living person that is purchased for $300,000. Despite the somewhat heavy subject matter, the play pulls you in with a fast-paced plot, smart writing, and plenty of aural and visual stimulation.
Caridad Svich, the play’s author, is the recent winner of the National Latino Playwriting award, and her work is known for its exploration of identity construction and for utilizing the full range of human emotions—from giddiness and pleasure to anger and pain. As Magnificent Waste Director John Moletress puts it, Svich’s repertoire “questions the psychological survival of a hyperactive world sustainable only by tension and speed.” This play is no exception.
The Factory 449 theater collective performs this show having recently been honored with the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theater Company. The award recognizes and encourages the efforts of companies who are just getting started yet have produced a body of work that is new, daring, and exciting. According to Producing Artistic Director Rick Hammerly the award has earned the company the moniker of DC’s local experimental theater company.
Magnificent Waste shows that the award was well deserved. The show is carried by the strong performance of the cast, particularly Factory 449 company member Lisa Hodsoll, who portrays protagonist Lizzy B. Hodsoll’s performance is affecting—she portrays Lizzy B’s eccentricity and verve with compelling authenticity. Her performance dominates the intimate theater space and breathes life into the entire show.
The show also makes clever use of the Meade Theater and Flashpoint performance space. Prior to the start of the show, audience members wait in the lobby, which doubles as a small art gallery. As the audience meanders through the space and interact with the various art pieces, the doors open and the audience is invited to explore the works of art on stage. But, as audience members trickle in, they are greeted by a different kind of artwork: one that contains a living boy inside a box lit with florescent light. While the audience comfortably interacted with the artwork before, the added twist of living, breathing human turns the interaction on its head, setting the tone for the rest of the performance.
What follows is the collision of five individuals: Lizzy B. (Lisa Hodsoll), a shock artist with a penchant for writing her name on the bodies of others; Arden (Stephen F. Schmidt), a wealthy gay man who purchases a work of art that contains a living boy; Mindy Darling (Sarah Strasser), a has-been mainstream actress who is down on her luck but up on uppers; Bret Carver (Tony Villa), a talk show host trying to make his success as big as his ego; and a Young Man (James T. Majewski), who just wants to be looked at. Together, the cast laugh, scream, and screw their way through the performance until you are quite convinced that you would never want to know any of them in real life.
Hold on tight–it’s a rollercoaster of a show.
Magnificent Waste premiered last weekend on April 9th and continues through May 8th. To learn more and to buy tickets, visit: www.factory449.com