By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor
In an age where it seems like adults are jumping at the bit for the chance to critique what they call the downfall of our culture and criticize our tendencies for social media, Five on a Match is a refreshing curiosity. Its members describe themselves as “a collective of performers making original work that explores what it means to be a human being in the 21st century.” Their latest venture, “Seen / By Everyone,” operates under the particularly interesting premise of asking its audience “what does it mean to live, die, grieve, and keep living in the era of (over)sharing?”
The script, which was entirely made of found text, follows the sort-of plot of a group of acquaintances and friends through a snapshot of their own varying grief. The particular brand of hurt ranges from the sudden heart failure of a loved one to the pain of not having anyone to love, and the difficulty in accepting that one might live alone forever. The stories are refreshingly diverse, with differing sexualities, races, religions, and a relatively equal balance between men and women.
The production itself, however, was less than one might have hoped. It was not confusing – apart from a few interspersed moments of shiny masks and ritualistic letters dropped into flames, the dialogue made sense, and it was clear that the question the company had posed was attempting to be answered, or at least picked apart. But apart from the notably impressive lighting and stage setting, nothing quite worked.
None of the characters, though they were each given their own story and monologues to tell it in, had fully developed lives. They weren’t even as interesting or attention-grabbing as caricatures. Instead, it felt more like reading the obituaries; providing a brief outline of a person in an attempt to describe them without really knowing them. It was hard to tell if there wasn’t a coherent thought by intent or by mistake, and even any exploration of the question of what it means to live and die in our era of sharing wasn’t properly addressed. The incoherency and lack of development of any one story prevented any useful thinking from being achieved.
Though it had amusingly quirky karaoke numbers and a very clearly talented set of actors and various hands behind the scenes, “Seen / By Everyone” fell short of doing anything but making one furrow their brows. The questions it asks are worth exploring, and perhaps other viewers might be able to take more from the play than this particular critic; feel free to see the show and ponder for yourself. It certainly wasn’t a waste of an evening – just, in a way it might not have intended, questionable.
“Seen / By Everyone” is playing at HERE in NYC at 145 Ave of the Americas (6th Ave) through June 25th. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at http://HERE.org or by calling 212-352-3101. For info visit http://www.SeenByEveryone.com and Like on Facebook athttps://www.Facebook.com/SeenByEveryone.