A traveler in space and time speaks; on a bed enclosed in space we listen. As the universe spins, episodes of light and sound invade our perceptions taking us with them and leaving us somewhere else.
Piece: Quiet, Comfort
Author: Toshiki Okada
Production: Hoi Polloi Theater Company
Director: Alec Duffy
Set Design: Amy Rubin, Mimi Lien
Lighting Design: Amith Chandrashaker
Date: August 2016
The New York Times: "The peacefulness is short-lived. Mr. Rozzell restlessly moves about the space, dodging the lounging audience. Colored lights go on and off, seemingly randomly. Static fades in and out; sometimes the show feels unnervingly like a concert by the noise artist Merzbow. (Amith Chandrashaker and Steven Leffue handled the superlative lighting and sound design.)" Read the full review here.
The Village Voice: "In this way, Quiet, Comfort insinuates itself into our own heads; then, like a snake, the text turns toward death. If we die when on a trip, the actor asks, does the trip continue? The "quiet" of Okada's title now looks ominously like "quietus"; the giant bed seems like a trap. Okada and Duffy have made us conscious of how we let our lives slip away — how we let "passenger" thinking turn us inert. We're all in bed, but suddenly we're antsy to get out. Wake up! the play seems to shout. Wake up, wake up!" Read the full review here.
culturebot: "I, on the other hand, was left comfortably standing on the gelatinous experience of Artaud-like rejection to rational interpretation. The repertoire of gestures and the sensory artifacts along with the ever-present magnanimous entity that is Lelia Goldoni collectively reinforced the idea that by enlarging the theatrical vocabulary, the text was intentionally left to the irrelevant. And perhaps that is why I left feeling fulfilled." Read the full review here.
The New York Theater Review: "There are the plays you go to see—and then there are the plays you go to be taken somewhere. Hoi Polloi’s latest production of Toshiki Okada's Quiet, Comfort is most emphatically the latter. " Read the full review here.
The original conception for Toshiki Okada’s Quiet Comfort, humorously enough, began as a commission gone awry; Julian Rozzell Jr. misremembered the name of the playwright in whose work he was interested, Yukio Shiba of Our Planet fame. Okada agreed to write a one person show, however, and it was not until opening night that the discrepancy was discovered.
The text was, true to Okada’s work, a meandering yet subtly introspective text whose observations are pedestrian but strongly ubiquitous. Okada’s enumeration of our commonplace world throws it into focus allowing the space for consideration which perhaps our minds might not normally allocate such seemingly obvious facets of our shared modern experience. Flying on an airplane is revealed as the manufactured feat of human engineering that it is; a reality in which we are mechanized according to forces beyond an individual’s comprehension and where our actual choices are few. Reality has been sculpted for us by the hivemind of humanity. The questions, both pedestrian and personal, begin to flow.
Against this backdrop, I felt the need to frame an experience which was fantastically transportative - that the audience should be extracted from their lived reality and placed aboard a magic carpet where these questions could be given the time and space to exist as entities in and of themselves. This conception was in stark contrast to the set design which presented the audience inside a low square box covered in mattresses: no windows, no doors. The production’s monophonic light shows and sacredly alien robes were not to be revealed to me until much later.
My own deep fear of flying fed the initial creative spark. I imagined placing the audience inside my dreams of the final moments of an in air explosion: a sudden cacophony, a deafening rush of swirling air unhinging our locative perceptions, the descent from one state of matter to another, and the final plunge into the ocean sinking through the miles of blackness to whatever uncharted depths fate had determined. From here, the orator transforms from an observed extra-corporeal individual to our guide and navigator. We rely on him/her to return us, if slightly altered, regardless of abrupt shifts and about faces.